Shadows in adoption; part 1

I’ve been thinking about shadows.

I’ve been thinking about adoption shadows – by which I mean little passing things that flit across the tarmac of our families.  I sometimes think of them as remnants.  They aren’t full blown issues that come and squat down smack in the middle of the family room, taking up too much room on the sofa.  Rather, they are shadows that flutter by, reminding you “Oh yeah, there’s still stuff here.”

Specifically, I want to talk about my sweet Gabey.  He’s been home about 3.5 years now! Already! He came  home an adorable wide eyed serious toddler, and has evolved into a LOUD funny smart sweet mischeivous prince of the palace.  He charms the socks off of all he meets, if he’s so inclined.  If not, then, he turns  his attention away, no matter their efforts.  And, I used to say that his adoption was our easiest ever – out of five.  And, in many many ways, it was. It so was.  But, as it goes in real life, nothing is ever really that simple.  It would be a grave error to think, simply because his homecoming seemed simple, and his knitting into our clan seemed so smooth… would be a deep mistake to think that all that meant that it was simple, or seamless.  Because, it is not.  It cannot be.  Adoption isn’t like that.  And you’re fooling  yourself and doing your kid(s) a disservice if you think it is.  Which is not to say that you should keep a klieg light on it all, all the time.  Certainly not.  But, don’t dismiss those shadows.

When I speak of the shadows, I”m not only talking about that ever so topical one: attachment.  It’s there, it’s always there…but it’s not usually a shadow so much, now is it?  Usually, if you’re talking about attachment you’re talking about that big tangly monster of issues that IS taking up so much room on the sofa.  Now, I’ve got a few different shadows that I’ve been seeing and thinking about.  This post  however, after all, might as well start with the biggie.  All that attachment stuff is the first thing that comes to mind for most of us; it’s the big gorilla, most of the time.  Sometimes, though, sometimes, attachment IS more of a shadow.  It can be a shiver glinting by at a family gathering or a after a school play.  I didn’t think my Gabe had attachment issues, not really, not now after over three years here.  But, you know what? He does.  Maybe more than I realized for awhile.  He does.

These attachment issues are more fleeting moments, but they are there and we would be remiss to not keep that on top of our awareness and work to walk through them.  More now, we see him willing to walk away with someone who is, effectively, a stranger, when we are football games.  Perhaps he is willing to walk further and beyond because he is almost five and testing those boundaries. But perhaps it’s that sometimes, deep deep down, there is a gap.  Maybe.  Maybe that’s why sometimes he still turns his back and snuggles into me backwards when coming in for a hug.  Because somehow frontward is TOO close, for him.

So, what do we do about this new awareness, this new sighting of these shadowy attachment tangles? Well, we don’t take it for granted.  We do the work.  We connect.  Every way we can.  When he needs us to walk him into the darkened room (another shadow, another post), we do it.  When I can help him with his shirt in the morning, I do.  When he wants to run to me to let me smell his breath after brushing his teeth, I breath in his little boy toothpaste.  When he sits near me and asks, “Which shoes mom?”, meaning, which feet do they go on….I say “Yup, that way,”  about his tumbly socks and shoes.

and as the little boy he is...he likes to make faces now for the camera too....

This special boy, he is getting bigger.  He is realizing the world is a much bigger place than he knew.  He is almost five now and  his shoes, his heart and understanding are all taking giant steps forward.  No matter the shadows, I want to make sure I hold his hand as he goes.


>This is a post about detours.


And apropos of this theme, I have a detour before I start blathering on about detours:

As I’ve been stewing about this post, this subject…a great lot of um, stuff (this is a G rated blog, right? right) has hit the fan in the Ethiopian adoption world. And I have a fair bit of thoughts about it rumbling through my brain…but those are for another post(s). {New requirements, across the board, for all families to travel twice – complicated and difficult and possibly good in the long run but a huge hurdle in the short for so many} For the moment, I offer my condolences and my ears to hear and heart to hurt for all of the children and families affected – for the cold slap in the face of worry that this news brings. But again, it’s too easy to slide into the tempest of this news and start fretting aloud and repeating everyone else’s words, and those who are in it, right now. And I’m not. I don’t own those words. So I won’t go there, not today. Maybe another day, ya never know! But I will probably also go off on a tangent or two…as I said, this just opens up so much fodder for pondering and processing, for me anyhow, which means, of course, for you!

Back to current post:

Anyhooo. As I said, I’ve been stewing about detours. It’s hard to write all this because it’s close. It carves right under that spot in your chest, right in tight to your heart and lungs. So if you cut too close you kind of gasp and can’t breath, and you hold your breath as you talk closer to it, so that you can be really careful. Because you need to protect your own heart and also the hearts and breathing of the ones you love. I don’t know, it’s hard to make this make sense. I know I’m not making sense, and yet, this disclaimer must be put out first. Because its a raw spot. But it’s also a spot that needs to toughen up, heal, move forward and that only happens by bringing it out to the light and looking at it, and thus, this post.

Right. Now that most have clicked away out of confusion and impatience, it’s just us friends. Hey there.

So. A few times in my life, parenting life mostly, I have had some detours.
Scratch that: Ok, any life, my life, yours, we all have detours because no life goes as we initially plan it. Then it would be dull and boring and unsatisfying.

But I’m talking about the hard turn detours. The ones that have you ending up somewhere you never dreamed, parenting wise. Others have written beautifully about all this. I don’t seem to be able to (again, hence this post). Probably the best known piece on this is here, known as “Welcome to Holland.”

So, I’ve been to Holland, figuratively speaking. And you know, while the place has it has it’s beauties, it’s still a tough landing. And we have found ourselves detoured there once again, recently. And you know, this “Holland” is a complicated place. And like all control freaks (me), that detour thing?… makes you (ok, me) want to kick and fuss and whine.

Because I don’t like detours….because they weren’t in “THE PLAN.” And that PLAN, well, we are, were, supposed to follow it. I mean, I had it all mapped out, you know? Knew where the bumps were, the turns, the scenic spots. Knew the time to get to our destination, and the best roads to follow. Heck, had even traveled it once or twice before. And when you are sent on a detour, even to somewhere with it’s own intrinsic beauty, well, we control freaks kind of um, freak out a bit. Maybe we get frantic, or very quiet, or very deeply indigo blue. Maybe we stop trusting. Maybe we question if we ever did. Or do. Maybe we stop looking out, because the view has changed. And we get stuck with the rut of “but.” As in, “But it was supposed to be Italy, not Holland.” Or, “But, it was supposed to be in the PLAN, page 42.”
And maybe it takes some time to realize that those detours are for us.
Those detours are for us.
Those detours are given to us by God himself.
Not as a punishment (because they are challenging, sometimes very hard, so it is easy to mistake them as such).
But as a gift.
A gift.
To call us back to Him.
To love Him better, right now.
To call us out of ourselves.

To save us from ourselves.
Those detours are not to deprive us/me of Italy.
That detour, this Holland, is to break our/my grasp on my own deadly vision: Us. Ok, me.
Finally, I realize that my struggle with this detour is me.
Of course.
It has been ever so painfully shown to me (thank you Fr. Luke, ouch) that struggle is in my unwillingness to look….beyond my own miserable me. My plan. My day. My feelings and desires and needs. Those very things are what drag me into the indigo abyss. And that is not where I wanted to be or choose to stay.
And I forgot my prayer.
I – not so long ago – literally prayed this: “Save me from myself, Oh God, send me a child, the one you choose.”
I forgot.
And He did what I asked.
Eight times.
Oh, dear, how could I forget that prayer?

This detour is for us. For me.
It all just IS for the child — They haven’t detoured. I have.
And they are waiting, pretty patiently for the most part, for us/me to step off the plane and start walking with them.
Really. Not grudgingly. Not counting the steps.
They are waiting to show me Holland. Again. Or – their Italia.

This blog, this post, helped me realize that it’s ok to get frustrated with the detours.
But it’s also ok to say the heck with it all, and we can make our own “Italy” right here.
I knew that, right?
Yeah, on the good days.
But I keep forgetting.

But, you know what?
I want to go to Italy.
I love Italy!
And who says we have to be stuck anywhere…..because detours are all about seeing new places with new eyes.
And I want to create some Viva Italia, starting now.

>Roll on up!

>Ok, I don’t usually do this, but I am taking a break from my usual blather to point you in the direction of a happy fun worthwhile thing.  This is a win-win deal all the way around and so, I’m gonna do you a big favor and shout it out. 

You see, one of my friends, the amazing Adrienne Parks (and another post will have to do her and her program justice, this one is focused), is doing a fundraiser for her adoption from Bulgaria.  Now, I know, I know, we are all fundraising weary.  It’s a weary time of year: the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder, spring fever, Haiti needs, and so on.  

However, do yourself a favor and head over to her blog and check out her stuff.  Because after much pestering persuading by myself and surely others, she has expanded her stock. 

So, what is it?


What do I mean? Well I mean the cutest rollups for crayons or pencils or markers that you could imagine.  I know from personal experience.  I ordered a few, both boy and girl versions, of the crayon ones and liked them so much that I started nagging politely requesting her for the marker or pencil versions and for bigger/older kids.
  And now they’ve got ’em!

They really are very cute, and well made.  They have cute fabrics for girls and cute (read boyish, cars etc) fabrics for boys.  They stay closed well with a nice springy band/button latch and they DO stay secure.  They are perfect for backpacks and cars and travel.  I’m thinking spring and summer travel coming up: a great option for those hard to corral pencils and crayons and pens.  Fun, clever and well made.  Now I know  you can get these here and there online or now and then in one of the stores, but honestly, these are by far the nicest I’ve seen and they are for a great cause: bringing home a particular little girl who is waiting in Bulgaria for the process to clear. 

So it’s money for a good family, and a good cause, and you get a useful cool tool.  It might even be add a bit of sunshine to the winter blahs……What’s not to love?

I’m going to go order more for big kids now.  Go, check it out and tell Adrienne I sent you and said hello!

>The turn-keys: Tears


So, here we are again.  Turn-keys.  Those things that I’m finding to be critical, yeah – Key – to our adjustment with this older child adoption. I’ve written about a couple already, here, and here.  And now, I want to write about another: Tears.

What? Tears?
How can those be so important?
Well, they are.
Yeah, it surprises me too.

I am learning that those tears are very important, critical, on different levels and in different ways.  Those tears are part of the adjusting, and I am not sure you can really adjust to all the new of an adoption without them.  And those tears are for everyone, of course.  Because each person in the family needs them….to process the intensity of the changes and the building of new relationships. Now I’ll spare  you the blathering about the tears of the rest of us: the jealous tears, the overwhelmed, the frazzled, the blue ones (yeah, it’s tough on moms too).  Those are fodder for a different post.

With a younger child, toddler or infant adoption, there are also many tears.  They are also critical to the adjustment process.  But they are easier to parse out, to understand.  They are typically more, not completely, but a bit more developmentally tracked and explained.  They are simpler because the child is still slightly simpler.  No less heartbreaking, but easier to console and repair.   The tears of the turn-key I’m talking about here are the tears of the older adopted child.  In this case, our daughter.

It’s hard to sort through all this coherently.  But I’ll give it a go.
It seems like it wouldn’t be complex, I mean, it’s crying, right?
Crying is a no brainer.
Kids cry all the time.
They cry, you console.
Except, not.

When an adjusting older child cries, honestly, at first you kind of brace yourself in dread.  You wonder, and fear a little bit, is this going to slip into something bad?  Is it going to blow in like a hurricane – tank the day? Because you don’t know this child so intimately yet. You haven’t always seen this before.  And you know the potential.  So, you brace for it…..whatever IT is.  And sometimes, it IS something very hard: rage, deep scarred grief, irrational fear.  Sometimes, it’s just overwhelmed or misconception or misunderstanding.  Sometimes, it’s just mundane, but ever so powerful, hormones.  Or lack of sleep.  Or an incoming virus.  It’s all over the map, crying.  Tears. 

Even so.  It’s all good.  Seems counter intuitive.  Our (ok, my) first reaction might, or is, naturally to wish it away, to sigh, to find the fastest way around it all.  But, that’s not necessarily the answer either.  Those tears are important.  If this child is grieving the life they left behind, no matter if that seems unlikely as that life might have been very very harsh, then that grieving must be done.  It’s valid; that life was what they knew, loved (some parts) and grew to themselves in. 

It’s all too easy to think of grief as a ‘hanging on’ to something.  It is and it isn’t.  When done right, it’s a ‘hanging on’ to the good, and letting go of the bad.  It’s ok to miss the ones or the place  you loved.  And that can totally jive with learning to love new ones or new places.  But, I don’t think it can be done without the tears of it.

Then there are the tears of rage and grief of the hurt – for both old and new hard things.  Those are kind of scary – for everyone.  And it’s so hard to know how to help.  And I”m not sure there is any way to really truly help – at least in the overt sense.  You can’t fix it.  I can’t fix it, or what has happened.  But you/I can BE there.  Just be there.  Hold on to them, sit next to them, let yourself get their tears dripped onto you.

That, that mess, is a fix.  It’s the only and best one.  Because you are there, they are not alone, and you’re not gonna run away from it.  And so, it gets less scary, for both of you.  But, oh, those tears…they hurt.  Both of you. 

Then there are the new tears.  These are the tears that can be both wonderful and frustrating.  The frustrating ones are the ones that you, and maybe she, doesn’t understand.  They just kind of spring up….from a misunderstanding, frazzled nerves, hormones.  From being a teen girl.  From sensory overload in a new country.   From language gap, culture gap….all sorts of gaps. Those too, mostly just need a little time, maybe a little space, maybe a time to hold or sit nearby.  They need to wash away….the weary effort, the bruised feelings.  And they do.  

Way back, oh 85 years or so ago, I learned in science class that water is the universal solvent.  Well, I would say that the water shed in tears, when you are talking about an older child adoption and adjusting, is one of the universal glues.  Can be.  Maybe not always (I’m talking about us, here, always, ever…that’s all I know), but oh so often they are.  These tears are bonding.  The happy over the top joyful tears…they are  just fun.  They pull you all in with a grin.  But the other kind….It’s hard not to care about a child who is sobbing next to you (even when you wish it weren’t so).  For the child to allow you to see them, hold them, at their most vulnerable….that is the beginning of trust.  For you to sit with them, hold them, get soaked by their tears…console them.  That is the beginning of family. 

A few days ago, a sibling moment occurred.  It was a pretty typical moment – if had happened between most of the kids.  However, it was the first between Marta and another.  And it was a a flash.  But, it cut to the quick for her.  It launched one of those tear spilling, walking away times.  It meant the evening would now be redirected.  And it was.  But, it was one of those turn-key times.  Because as I consoled Marta and talked to her about what happened, she slowly sat up in bed and hugged her pillow to her.  Then Bananas came in and flopped on her bed on the other side of the room they share.  And she saw Marta, still crying.  I said, “Has this happened to you?”  And Bananas laughed and said, “Oh yeah!  See, Marta, it’s like this…..” and she went on to act out the same interaction with the same sib.

And very soon, Marta was laughing with us as she snuffled up her tears, eyes red rimmed.  And I froze the moment in my mind.  These tears were healing.  These tears were bonding.  These tears were typical of any sibling scuffle.  And this image, two sisters laughing about a sib, both on their beds in pj’s, while one allowed us to see her snuffling and gulping a bit as she came to calm, the other trying  hard to make her laugh and move on…that’s a FAMILY.  That’s what happens in families.  So, yeah, these tears: they helped turn a bit closer to family.  And I am grateful for even this tough turn-key.  Another one made of gold.

>A WIN! Changing Lives, Families!

>For all you families waiting to travel and about to travel to go get your kids from Ethiopia, there is great news! The kids are coming home! If they are 10 or under, they can come home. No more waiting for cultures, now they can come home. Wahoo! Read below for the particulars.

As you all know, this is an issue close to our hearts. Our daughter Marta was stuck in Addis and not allowed to come home for eleven weeks, waiting on a TB culture. We fought, screamed, pushed, shoved, and prayed. And still we waited. Many others have done the same, causing much anguish and many problems. However, times are changing!

Many people have been working very hard to get the Technical Instructions changed and get our kids home. It has taken much work and pushing and researching and talking and meeting by many amazing dedicated people: lawyers, adoption professionals, doctors, families, all sorts of folks. And now, change has happened, for good! This is a big darn deal and while it would not have helped us in our situation, it will help the vast majority of most of the families who might otherwise be stuck. It is a huge step forward and worth a big cheer and shout of joy, even clapping for the CDC, who agreed to make the changes. So, without further ado:

2007 Technical Instructions for Tuberculosis Screening and Treatment Addendum: Instructions for Applicants 10 Years of Age or Younger

September 18, 2009

CDC has developed the following addendum instructions for travel clearances for 10 years of age or younger. The criteria described in these addendum Technical Instructions are based on physiologic
aspects of childhood tuberculosis disease and children’s ability to transmit tuberculosis disease.
These criteria do not apply to adults or children with tuberculosis disease associated with higher
levels of transmissibility.

Applicants 10 years of age or younger who require sputum cultures, regardless of HIV infection
status, may travel to the United States immediately after sputum smear analysis (while culture results
are pending) if none of the following conditions exist:
 Sputum smears are positive for acid-fast bacilli (AFB). If the applicant could not provide
sputum specimens and gastric aspirates were obtained, positive gastric aspirates for AFB do
not prevent travel while culture results are pending.
 Chest radiograph findings include―
o One or more cavities
o Extensive disease (e.g., particularly if involving both upper lobes)
 Respiratory symptoms include forceful and productive cough
 Known contact with a person with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) who was
infectious at the time of contact

For applicants 10 years of age or younger who travel to the United States while results of cultures
are pending, panel physicians should―
 Give the applicant a Class B1 TB, Pulmonary classification
 Document that culture results are pending on the Chest X-Ray Worksheet (DS 3024 [until
September 30, 2009] or DS 3030 [beginning October 1, 2009]
 Forward culture results to DGMQ “Quality Assessment Program” via fax at 404-639-4441
so that DGMQ can forward the culture results to the receiving health departments

Panel physicians should provide the DS Forms based on the date of intended travel. If an applicant
10 years of age or younger will not travel until after culture results are to be reported (assuming they
are negative), the panel physicians should wait until that time before completing the DS Forms. If
the applicant 10 years of age or younger will travel while results of cultures are pending, the panel
physician should provide DS Forms while cultures are pending.

Panel physicians should not delay treatment on applicants 10 years of age or younger for whom
there is high suspicion of tuberculosis disease and who would benefit from therapy being started
prior to departure to the United States. Consistent with other applicants started on tuberculosis
treatment prior to travel, if therapy is started for an applicant 10 years of age or younger, the
applicant is Class A for tuberculosis. A Class A Waiver petition can be filed so that the waiver
petition could be reviewed and the applicant can travel to the United States before completion of therapy. CDC supports the filing of waiver requests for young children with tuberculosis disease so that the waiver application may be reviewed and adjudicated in a timely manner.


>I am a “Type A” person. I know, this comes as a huge surprise to you all, a shock no doubt.
But, its true. I am fairly high energy, intense, and feel guilty if I am not doing something productive, or at least something that I can indulge in and justify. I have a constant “to do” list scrolling through my head…like a bizarre gerbil mill on speed: spinning spinning spinning. Fun, no? Not always…..

Why, you ask, am I indulging in this tedious reflection? Well, it is hitting me smack in my forehead that this very trait is a huge link, or broken link, in the process of adjusting. I know, I hear you: “Doh!” But there you have it.

Every time I allow myself, ok, force myself, to sloooowwwwww down and just, um, BE, with the kids (particularly the one newly home, now, years ago, whenever, tho this is just key with teens too) it is better. It can be just hanging with them, spending time next to them. But really, too often I tend to kind of slot that into MY agenda of work and errands and so on and consider that, that “downtime”, checked off my list. Yup, done. Well, kind of. But the beauty and value of downtime unfolds when the downtime is really, um, down. By “down” I mean, of course, chilling out. Hanging with them, talking easy and slow. With, and this is key for us Type A’s, NO AGENDA.

I know.

Sounds so easy and yet, so not. But when I can smack myself and allow myself to do this, to just let it be them directing the conversation, talking slowly, thinking, listening….it is so rewarding. And I like to think its rewarding for us both. If its with a baby or toddler or little one, you know its a great thing because they practically giggle or purr with contentment. But with an older child, ok, our new older daughter…it is just so important I think. I have been able to find and carve out a couple of these times in the past few days. They have been much needed; issues are arising of late. But those times, sitting on the deck in the late afternoon being lazy and answering any question that Marta lobs….sitting together in the art room, sorting pins (of all things, sounds weird, a spill), and then just yakking in two languages as lazily as possible…..those times feel so much better. They are building connections I believe. For both of us. And for that, that downtime is worth gold. Even my type A gerbil mill mind can be shushed and relish that.

We goal oriented moms (ok, sigh, me) tend to want to build the family, piece by piece, dinner by dinner, laundry load by car load. But what it is too easy for me to forget, is that the goal is not just the shell of the family to be in place, but the heart of it.
And that takes the downtime. That takes the willingness to just be there: lazy, accepting, quiet. It’s a tough thing to do, too often. But now and then, we luck out, I remember, we grab that time.
We’ve begun.

>Adjustment: Marking the Good

>So, you all know we are at two months now. And I’ve written some, or a lot, about the difficulties and unexpected strangeness of it all: this process of weaving in a new, older child into the family.
I want to be honest about it all, because it helps me to process it and because I want others to know the real stuff: the good, the bad, the tough, the surprising.

But its too easy to focus on the surprising and the tough stuff and too easy to let the good slip. And so, to that end, I want to take a page from Mary’s blog, one of my heroes, and make sure to mark the good. Publicly. So I don’t forget and so you can be sure to see that there are good moments too. Little victories, in a way, no matter how small. Because in this process, even small things matter….sometimes much more than you might imagine.

Mary did this about a year ago: making posts to mark the good things of the week, so she would record them. And if I’ve got my memory and timing on track, I believe she too was adjusting to bringing older children to the family. I too, need to remember to do this. So, I will shamelessly steal her idea, with a hat tip to her for leading the way. And I will throw up one or two good things, when I can steal the time to load the picture and post it (not on a schedule or set number, I’m just not that organized, folks…I know my limits!).

So, here goes – with the caveat for you readers that these will all seem like minute dreary nothings to you perhaps. But in the world of weaving a family, they are milestones: happy important markers. And I want to remember ours.

While we had a very rocky end of the week with that whole “honeymoon” concept being clearly swept away….we finally ended the week on a note of laughter. And I am grateful. I think it was a relief to us all. Last night was a casual chips and sandwiches Friday night. Everyone was a little punchy after a long week, friends were over and it was a little wild and crazy overall. Somehow they starting making faces and rolling tongues and vying for who could make the “better” face, giggling and challenging each other. I thought Marta might be baffled by it, but then she joined in with her own, laughing, wanting a picture. The faces got goofier, wilder, the silly factor skyrocketed. And for a few minutes, it felt like a normal doofy family on a tired wild messy Friday night. Fun. I’ll take it. Savor it. This face, this laugh. I will mark it.

>The adoption process: what they don’t tell you about coming to America

>Well, there are SO many things that you cannot know before you move to America.
However, what they forget to tell you, or us new parents (tho, really, we should know better), is that there is a steep learning curve. NO, you hear and read and learn about the cultural learning curve and the language and family customs…and all those will be topics of posts to come, I am sure.

But “those experts” don’t lay out the VIRAL LEARNING CURVE.

It’s the same formula as starting school -its a new math:
New people + new food + new place = EVERY virus hits!

Every single virus and contagion that comes down the pike is gonna hit the new kid, flat.
It’s like starting a new school in a new state.
It’s like being a pediatric resident the first few years.
It’s like visiting relatives who live across the country.
It takes a bit of time to inoculate your immune system against all the garden variety American bugs and viruses. So, since we have a “gulfa” in the house….so does Marta. Gabey did this too.
I guess I just forgot.
So, America doesn’t only come with birthdays and ice cream…it comes with head colds.
{Consider this a public service announcement, from one adoptive mom to another. You’re welcome.}


>So, we are tiptoeing around here. Ok, I am. And by that I mean that we are gingerly tiptoeing our way through the adjustment process, blundering here and there but making tiny steps forward.

Yes, I am mostly talking about me {duh, of course}, but really it does all apply to the whole family. Because make NO mistake, anytime you add a child the entire family has to morph and stretch and pull and squish over to make room. And I know, they tell you this in the books and so on. But really, it’s just so much different living it and then again, living it adjusting to the push/pull, embrace/release, with an older child. {And I know that I’ve whinged on about this weird twilight zone time of transition already…and it’s so different from last year’s transition with Gabey as a toddler…but since we are still in the throes of it, well, you are too! Because that’s what this blog is babeee…if it’s on my mind, it’s on blog. }

This transition time is something that can’t be totally described with precise instructions and or diagrams…but wouldn’t that be great if it could?!
Imagine: “Instructions: 7. Try to understand when new child retreats behind headphones or to bed early. It’s probably just a small bout of overwhelmed and needing space.”
Or, “12. When two teens try to share a bathroom, particularly if both are female, adjustments in timing will need to be made on all sides. This might take some preplanning and/or extra clocks, strategically placed. Consider investing in extra hair products and towels.”

So, without said instructions, we are trying not to bruise too many shins or hearts or heads along the way, even as we clumsily tiptoe toward a new normal for our family.

Buddybug left for college again, which was a sad day and a sad weekend, especially for Marta and I (ok, a bunch of us). But it seems that just-about-daily phone calls help, especially if that call can be via Skype. And even though Marta is still not speaking much English at all, it is getting slightly less strange overall. I can ask for help in setting the table or taking this plate over to the baby and M understands and so somehow, it feels like we are communicating. School is the main event of the day for us all; for the kids who go out of the house to school and for the kids at home. This is allowing me to really work intensively with both Sbird and Marta and I think it’s showing a benefit in both of them, at the very minimum they seem to do well with the extra mom time.

And I guess, really, that’s the biggest change. Ssshhhhhh. I don’t want to say it too loud. But then again, we Catholics don’t believe in superstition, so that whole “jinx” it concept shouldn’t apply.

But, I’ll say it out loud (not shouting yet tho) I am moving into a new mom spot. One that is not having to scooch over so much for a “new kid” but is instead moving more into the reflex of “one of the kids.” Soon?…I pray, for the fierce deep feeling (I know, it’s not about the feelings, but I crave them)…..”My girl.” I am not totally there yet, we need oodles and oodles of time. But the one on one during the day is helping ease off some of the stiffness and strangeness for each of us. And for me, that is huge! Call me stiff, call me cold, you could and you’d be right. Mea culpa. And I hate learning that about myself (tho some might not be surprised, Nancy, I know).

Perhaps the biggest surprise and disappointment to me this go-round is that this is all taking unexpected time for me to feel normal and for the family to feel normal {Right, patience is obviously not one of my virtues}. Because we are not, not “normal” {Read: the old normal}, anymore. We need the time to make it through to the new normal.

And we are NOT there yet, but in a way, if I stretch my neck I think I might be able to see it on the horizon. And even being able to know it can maybe get there, helps my steps be more sure. And as my steps stop faltering, become more sure…as I smile and tease and trim hair and high five, then everyone else’s steps also stop shuffling and stalling. I don’t have to tiptoe around the pitfalls of presumptions and gaps and fear and otherness quite as much. And that makes everything better, for us all. I’ve never been one for toe shoes…too clumsy. So, I hope I’m done tiptoeing and can now just keep trying to walk forward, with the whole family, to a new normal that feels just right.

>Little letters, big progress

>So, this is just a short notice on short words.
We have made a baby step of progress this week, our first real week of school for all the elementary students.
For this particular student, happily smiling above…..we have made little letters of progress.

But OH what big steps they are!
This sweet girl is starting to read!
our Marta can recognize most of her letters, and usually gets them right (tho occasionally needing to sing them to remember).
And she has read these words:

Now, that may not mean much to most of you.
But around here it was cause for whooping and high fives….because this is beginning steps to decoding, in my book.

And those are the words that she read and also can understand (tho, she forgets now and then) what they stand for, connecting the word with the actual meaning or object.
Even so, we have a long way to go…she will forget the letter names then remember them again…but it’s a tough language.
Even so, I’m happy for any of these small steps.
Now “my book” isn’t anything official, its just me and my opinions…one mom’s ideas.
But this mom thinks that this can be the beginning of unlocking a strange new difficult code, aka: english!

So, yeah, it was a pretty exciting week.
I think those first words are exciting, no matter when they click!
And to see those eyes light up with pride and glee, it’s always great, no matter what.

>It’s Time to Limbo!

>Yeah, I’m not talking about the Catholic “Limbo” here, that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

I’m talking about “How low can you go?” And, of course, as usual, I’m talking about me.

You see, everybody keeps asking me “How is it going?” And I can honestly say that it’s not what I expected, even as it is in so many ways what I expected. Confusing, no? Yes.
This is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but not actually because of Marta. Marta, so far (and I am fully aware of the whole “honeymoon” concept, no worries), has been nothing but amazingly sweet, nice, helpful, happy kid. Really, no big demands, no major meltdowns, a few small ones from being scared, nothing. She needs and craves love and affection and knowing she is secure in the family, but that is nothing but a time need. The lack of common language is, well, ridiculous, but that can only improve, right? No choice there.

No, this is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, all because of me.

You see, this is my own personal limbo contest….just without the cute bikini. (Although I think often about adding the fun libations…..kidding. mostly). The limbo requires strength, balance, coordination, a brave spirit and sense of crazy fun. It also makes most folks fall right down on their fannies.

And, yup, I now get the fun game of seeing just ‘how low can I go?’ Problem is this “low” is not so fun and its a lot more than a simply pratfall from lack of strength and balance…..That is to say, my struggles are internal and honestly, in many ways they are a spiritual battle of my will versus, oh, anyone’s, and my control freak type A nature. It is my falling into the icy grip of fear and a good imagination. To be precise, it is a lack of faith and trust. Period.

I know, I know, I have written on this before. But I want to shout, those posts were fine for then, but this is now. Totally different.
Right….{yes I am, it seems, a hypocrite}.
Those posts talked about this struggle and the grip of fear, love as an action not feeling, and the transformation in the struggle and the suffering. But you know, that’s all fine and well AFTER the fact to think those things. It’s another thing to embrace them in the midst of it all now isn’t it? Because you know, struggle, change, even suffering (on any level, even the most minor)….it HURTS. Hence, the term: suffering. Right? And you know, we wimpy folks out there, by which I mean me, we don’t really like to suffer, hurt and so on. I mean, it’s one thing to say, I’m tough and I can take it. But really, when you step on that nail or heck, get that unexpected paper cut, you might just cuss and holler and whine, right? Ok, well, I might. Ok, maybe I do.

A good friend has pointed out that it’s like a little Rumpelstiltskin tantrum. And she’s right. Because it, my struggle these past few weeks, has been all about ME. I just really want things to be ok and normal again; my way, my timing, my ideas of what it should be like, my plan, MY FEELINGS. Me, me, me. My ideas are not playing out in the timing I would like, my body is being knocked back again and again with one variety of illness or migraine or something after another. The order I placed for a smooth transition: good health for all, full of overflowing feelings of bounty and joy, everything clicking into place…..oddly enough hasn’t happened yet. Funny that.
And so I have been having a Rumplestiltskin time. {I am Rumpelstiltskin, old middle aged girl version, maybe I should change my screenname….} And it’s hard and not a fun place.

But this week, I am also seeing something else. Not only have I seen a glimmer (and I don’t even want to THINK about seeing further) about how low I can go….{ Shocking, I tell you. Utterly, heartbreakingly, humbling.}
But I have seen what can happen when you get there. To your, ok my, lowest point. Because, oddly enough, even there, there is a beauty. And once again, that beauty is in the others. And that makes my heart be able to lift up again.

I have found myself laid flat by illness and fear, simply hitting my break point. And I have seen my husband and sons and friends (near and far) reach out to help lift me up. That’s no easy task! But they have all reached out, grabbed me and helped me stand up again – literally and figuratively. And they are still here, helping me, holding on. And they let me see that despite my tantrum of wanting everything just so, on MY time and in MY way, it’s not necessarily about that. And it’s ok to wait for it to play out. And to try to trust.
Simple huh? Sure. But not so much, not for me.

So, if you ask how it’s going I will still say this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
But the gratitude I have for so many is some of my deepest.
So, I guess it’s going just like it’s supposed to.
It’s hard, it hurts, I’m useless on my own.
It’s great, she’s sweet, the kids are amazing.
It’s a huge change.
But I also have helpers.

And I’m grateful. Even as it’s hard, challenging me on so many levels and putting a klieg light on my every failing…for what this brings….I’m grateful.
And I am looking forward to the luau without the limbo…..


>Threads. Weaving together, pulling apart.
You know, adopting an older child is a completely different deal than adopting an infant or toddler. And its all new to us. (I know, doh!)
This time around is a strange new experience and process. Its surreal and odd and impossible to anticipate and filled with unexpected experiences, feelings, thoughts.
This time around, the entire event is much more complex, on all levels.
Really, it’s just harder.

I know, this shouldn’t be news. We were prepped, or thought we were (by which I mean, me). But really, some things in life you can “prep” for, you can intellectualize, do the research, do the math, run the numbers, stock the pantry, pray, wonder, imagine, speculate. But you know, just like anything else, you never really know what it’s like until you do it. (Again, I hear you, doh.)

All this is to say that so far, already, this adoption has taken me places I didn’t expect to go; both good and bad. But, one of the surprises to me are the threads.

There are a few tiny little threads hanging out, that we have been able to follow to the back of this tapestry and see. And it’s one cool thing that, especially in these early days, I will hold onto.

You see, our Marta turns out, unknown to us prior to our meeting, to have a deep devotion to Mary. Yes, that’s right, the Blessed Mother, Mary. Maram, she calls her, with a sigh and a smile.

Now, as Coffeedoc points out….no matter the new strangeness of this fit….what are the odds? Of all the children, millions of orphans, what are the odds that we would bring home a child who is so devoted to Mary? Good, you say? Maybe. But, honestly, we both think maybe not so much. How many deeply, openly devout teens do you know? How many of them have lived one or two lifetimes in the toughest of conditions already and still have that deep love and devotion? Well, we think the odds get pretty slim there.
But we, in our home, have a deep devotion to Mary (um, remember, Catholic…). Heck, our house is full of Mary icons and pictures and books and paintings and sculptures of Mary and her son – a veritable folk art/high art/kitschy/antique/homemade collectors corner of this. Our home might give someone who didn’t have a love of religious art a start {Fair warning, visitors!}. But this part of our home sent her clasping her hand to her chest, saying “Oh! Konjo! Mom! Dad!” All with a mega-watt smile.

So, I write this to remind myself of this thread. It is knotted on the back of our tapestry. And I might need to lift it up and see it from time to time to remember that the odds are against us being brought together. As such, say what you will, I do believe that Mary had a hand in this. She loves with a perfect love and as such I can only hope that her love also rubs off on all of us.
Marta told us she prayed daily in front of an icon of Mary for her to pray for her and bring her a family, a mom and a dad.
Visiting her church, Coffeedoc asked her if she wanted anything special from there, to take home with her. She asked to buy a bible and a prayer umbrella to present to the priest in thanksgiving.
Oh.So on those days (Why yes, this afternoon, now that you mention it) when I get a little overwhelmed and am juggling the senses and feelings and questions and hows of weaving all my kids together into a family – I want to be able to look and see this thread, this very important thread, and see the knot on the back. No matter the strangeness or the adjusting and discomfort or tugs, this is a reminder that just maybe, this one too was part of a bigger plan.

Being sewn together isn’t always comfortable, perhaps.
But the tapestry, I hope and pray (and pray for trust), someday will be a beauty.

>In the meantime……the Meet

>Ok, I am jet lagged and recovering from being sicker than I’ve ever been….Not to mention the re-entry (and other ones now falling sick, but different kind) and reconnecting with my dear, sorely missed boys and the beginning of a whole new weave in our family. So, no real post for a bit.

There is SO much to process and adjust and sort out. It’s wonderful surreal and strange all at the same time. Unexpected and indescribable and impossible to have guessed at all the things that come with adopting an older child, good, hard, wrenching, funny, surprising…the works. Either many posts coming or maybe not so many at all, we will feel our way through {calling on friends for tips; you know who you are!}. For now we are keeping close in, finding our way to new normal….

Until then…..{Shelly, here you go}:


>I don’t have a picture yet, can’t upload yet, I’m surprised I can even access Blogger.

That said…
We are here, we are here! In Addis Ababa!
And we are all together, finally!!!!

We have our Marta and I can’t describe it. This is as best as I can do before my minutes run out, I promise more and better later but right now my muzzy jet lagged emotion whipped brain can only babble:
Tiny, sweet, smiling, shy, sweet, happy, overwhelmed, shy, tiny, nervous me, waiting to meet, leaping bear hugs, tearing up mom, unexpected, surprise, smiling, holding on, exhausted us, jet lag, long flight, good flight, Ayat house, hoorah, lots of rain, no language, pointing, laughing, looking, smiling, shy, eyebrow lifts, breaths intake, hugs, squeezes, hands holding, sitting close, sleepy, smiling, happy, crazy language gap, smiles, shy, sweet, tiny, together.

Sisters, all FOUR, together and smiling!!
Family no longer apart (soon all to be in same place, but for now, together) and smiling.



>So. Here we are. It’s the day before we leave. And this time, we haven’t gotten ANY phone call from the agency and instead of me in the curled up sniffling fetal position in the recliner as I watch my furious husband man the phones to Africa and the CDC in Atlanta….I am surfing back and forth through the house, up and down, packing, sorting, zipping, counting.

Duffel: zip. Laundry: fold. Shoes: find. Toddler: kiss. List: check.

It is a huge undertaking to travel, anytime, really… as a mom. With a trip where the family is split, you have to also plan and sort and prep for the kids left behind. You make the daily surprise bags with little happy nothings in them that will buy the babysitter a few extra minutes of happy busy time and you draw hearts on them from mom. You make these and set them aside, one per day per kid, no matter how old. You prep the babysitter notes and backups and house. You look at the garden and hope, again, that it doesn’t die while you’re gone. Then you turn to your packing, again, and you sort the clothes and backpacks and meds and books. And, inevitably, something is forgotten. Every time. {Ok, me…not SO organized after all}

And it’s so easy, this time, so jumping giddy after so long waiting, to get swallowed up in this busy pack-o-rama. But last night, it hit me. Right about dinnertime, my stomach knew it before I did……we are about to plunge.

We are diving off a cliff.
That’s sure what it feels like anyhow.

I’ve done that before, literally, on a baby cliff in northern California as a teen. It was what? Twenty feet high? Surely nothing. But I remember standing on the edge, trembling, afraid to stand too close, and feeling this same sick in my stomach. It looked so fun and everybody had splashed safely into the river. They didn’t bash open their heads, they came up smiling…all good. Way back forever ago, in the dark ages when I stood on that cliff, a cute guy was standing by the edge and finally helped talk me into the jump. So, finally, feeling like a fool and with a great lurch in my stomach as the butterflies flew inside, I jumped. Not dove gracefully, mind you, but jumped feet first with a scream all the way down.
Obviously, I survived, with my dork factor intact, and in fact increased, but I did it. And I was glad.

I tell you all this to say that I have those exact same feelings now. I have looked over the edge, and I have a dear handsome husband standing next to me, encouraging me. But even so, I have those same butterflies swirling inside my stomach with both the excitement and the fear of jumping off this cliff. That may shock some of you, after all our ranting raging pining away to go get our girl.

But there you have it.

Every single time I have a child: by labor and c-section, by racing in planes or automobiles to go get them, near or half a world away, I have to fight off a bit of terror.
Because life changes, the universe shifts.
I know, I know, it already did.
But now, I am really, truly, leaping into the abyss of the new, the shifted.
And it’s a little scary.

So I’m almost ready to go. Our bags are packed, almost. Our goddaughter arrives in the early morning to drive us to the airport. My toes are hanging on the edge. My husband is holding my hand to help my courage and I’m looking over the rim of the world, swallowing my fear and knowing I will make a fool of myself as I jump. I don’t really know everything that will meet us, except a girl on the other side of the world….who might be just as nervous as me.


>We got the all clear!
Marta‘s cultures are all clear!
We have an embassy date of next Wednesday, July 8th (my brother’s 50th bday!)!

Natalie called this morning, early, right after Belay emailed her to say that the final report is in, it’s all clear and the embassy will have the papers for Wednesday and we are good to travel.
I started to cry, because I’m a dork.
I couldn’t help it and didn’t expect to.
(Stop laughing, I know what you’re thinking..but really I didn’t expect to.)

And now it begins.
We travel today to go home, to do the final whirlwind of prep to leave for Ethiopia!
We go to bring home our new daughter and become a family of ten.
It’s a good thing Coffeedad was right there and heard it all too as I keep having to double check to make sure it’s real…it feels almost surreal.

Just. Wow.
Thanks be to God!!
And to all of you, every one, for your prayers and support and, everything….and now I’m starting to cry again, so I’d better go pack.

Tolo! That’s Amharic for “hurry, go fast!”
We are going, to Addis Ababa.
Gabey says this: “Fast fast fast!”
Marta too, I think, will say, “Tolo, tolo tolo!”

>Final Countdown Approach; Second Edition

It is Sunday. It is my favorite time of day on the beach: that quiet time between afternoon and evening when the beach empties and the sun lowers and the sand still has the warmth of the day running between your toes. I look out to the waves and watch my Little Man and Miss M on the boogie boards, still. And I realize that I have loved this spot in the world best since I was a child, their age. And I know that they will bring their children here, or I hope they do…and they can love it as a home for their heart to rest too.

And then it crowds back in: we are at week nine. We are in the final countdown. The cultures are done. The final final (? yeah, it confuses us too) report is due at the embassy and doc on Wed.

And so once again, we are in a final countdown to launch.

We will soak up our last two days at the beach, gathering up the calm and the soothing of the waves and the sand…..packing it to overflowing as best we can in anticipation of the rocket launch of travel across the world to our new daughter and family.
A dear blog friend pointed out to me that this is our last time together as a family of nine.
Soon, we will be ten, together.

Officially we have to wait to Thursday (or God forbid, Friday, again) to get the all clear to go.
But, we all dare to believe that we are going.

And so, in my mind I have the checklist forming:
Donations: packed, still, in foyer.
Marta’s suitcase: packed, still, in foyer.
And then the list of to do’s before we go… can expand at warp speed in my brain.

But not yet.
For the next two days, I get to dig my toes in the sand and soak in the salty sun.
I am deeply grateful for the time here, in this special place.
I feel the countdown approach but I am going to push it back to enjoy this last sandy time on this beach before our world changes in my arms.
Or, I will pretend to…..because inside, I feel it.
The countdown, it’s beginning.



Salvador Dali, 1931, “La Persistencia de la Memoria.”

The adoption process is about so many things: desire, love, fear, courage, grinding paperwork, intrusive questions (official and unofficial), endurance, faith, hope, delight, joy, despair, physical stamina, finances, community….. The list can go on and on.

But what is glaring throughout the entire process adoption is the element of time.

Timing, in adoption, IS everything.
Most of us have lived through, in exquisite detail, the time issues that press and pull during the process: the initial thrilling phase of deciding to adopt, the daydreaming, the fantasies played out in a ‘not too distant future.” Then comes the excruciating paperchase, the hurry up and wait on CIS or the social worker or this form or that. Then we have the exhilaration of the referral; time stops, because it has been redefined into “before and after.”

It is not only ‘before and after’ referral, however, because time has, seemingly, just changed. The waiting has changed. Now it has a new layer to it. Now you are counting the hours and living with your heart and mind in two very distant time zones: what you are doing and what your child (who has a face and name that your are searing into your soul) is doing. But you can sort of move forward in more precise preparation and know that court will come. It becomes a goal. After you pass court (hopefully swiftly) typically you have that giddy breathless rush of packing and arrangements and sense that time has sped up. It has become a speeding locomotive, rushing straight at you. And your heart beats faster at it’s approach.

I know those kinds of time. I’ve been there. Done them. I know how to ‘surf’ those kinds of waves of rushing or bogging time. Now, I am in a new kind of time. It’s odd to me. I’ve been quiet for a few days or so, cut back blog and facebook, because I am literally in “process” time. I feel a bit like the painting above: surreal and droopy and just……hanging there.

This is not my kind of time.

We are in week seven, entering week eight actually. And I know I should be starting to feel the wind of that approaching locomotive: time is gathering itself to rush at me. But still, I am still. I feel the wait. I feel the weight. And I don’t know what may come.

And so, in this surreal wait time; uncharted by others as of yet (this tb culture protocal wait), I find myself slipping between things. I get very busy, it’s been slamming busy actually. And even so, it’s like two layers: the busy right here, do this now layer, and the set aside twilight zone “waiting” layer. Very split. Surreal. It’s not that I’m blue or depressed or fretting (tho I’ve hit those often enough of late). It just so different. It’s Time out of time….even as it is Time so swamped in time. And it’s bizarre. And I don’t know much what else to do except kind of muddle through it in my usual clumsy fashion.

It’s a different, unique, new, not so great, part of the adoption process time. Maybe, as it gets more familiar or God forbid, common, it will be less strange. I pray and hope and will fight if I can for it to not become common and in fact for it to be abolished…for this tacked on last endless minute of the process to be revamped or, best, cut off. This is a clock I would love to smash. I know, such a whiny post. This is why I have been quieter. I don’t mean to whine. But I think that since this is part of the new international, Ethiopian, adoption process for some….it’s maybe worth talking about.

I know, someday I will understand how this delay, this surreal drooping time, will have been woven into our lives for a purpose. I believe that. But right now, it’s hard to see. I accept it because I have no choice. But I still object to it. And it has, to be frank, thrown me into a weird state of stopped clock. The activities of any given day, from the most mundane laundry sorting to the most sweet and profound of my kids kisses goodnight or a quiet real talk with my teen son….they are functioning on two levels: the here/now and the filler. Not that the actions of the moment mean nothing, they mean everything…more so perhaps as I cling to their normal. But. It’s filling time too.

Time has stopped or it has slowed into a Dali-esque droop. This wait. The end approaches and my head and stomach can feel it. I now have three clocks: real present time and activity, eight hours ahead for my daughter’s time, and the culture countdown clock. Their hands have been independent, circling on their own cogs. Soon, soon, I hope those clocks will merge. And then perhaps time will reset back to a new normal. I am ready for that time, now.

>Shouting for joy for friends



It’s finally happened!!!
Go, see, congratulate the Fournet family, pop champagne, throw confetti, toot some horns.
We are doing cartwheels here!!!!

They deserve every bit of celebration, around the world….surely the saints and angels too are rejoicing for this great gift today.
They have waited over a year to pass court, enduring the disappointments and excruciating wait beyond what most of us could ever manage (certainly not me!).
And they did it with grace and steadfast faith.

I am beyond thrilled for them. This is big big news. Go, see, shout, congratulate them. I know, I want to shout for each person who passes court. But some, some elicit a louder whoop when they wait so very long and through such hardship. I can’t help it, I hope their comment box simply overflows with joy. They deserve it. Yippee!!! Those babies are coming home!

>Novena begins today

Today I have decided to begin a novena. This novena is special to me, personally, because it is a petition for prayers from one of my favorite saints (I know, I have many favorites, but this saint is special): St. Therese of Lisieux.

I have written about St. Therese before, here, and there is much to learn from this young saint. But for today, I am putting up a simple novena. I have chosen a simple one because St. Therese was all about the “little way.” Meaning, she knew that she was not able to complete grandstand acts of heroism and sacrifice. Most of us are not either. She was a cloistered nun, young and often dismissed or overlooked, even by her own sisters in the convent of Carmel. However, she knew that she could offer “little” acts of love. She strove to do even the smallest of things with great love, whether or not anyone ever saw them. Sound familiar? Yeah, our dear Mother Teresa has the same famous quote and heart for love. And you know, both of these women, on this track….they changed the world. You all know Mother Teresa and how she has made the world a better place and touched millions through her acts of love for the poorest of the poor. St. Therese of Lisieux has also influenced countless people by this concept of the “little way,” and I would argue, by her prayers on our behalf.

I cannot make any grand heroic sacrifice or gesture to help my girl get home, or to make sure the resolution and reporting of this TB culture moves along simply and smoothly and swiftly. Goodness knows, we’ve tried. And tried. And will not quit trying. I’m still ready to talk to Michelle Obama whenever she’s ready! So, since our big efforts haven’t helped at all….I will do what I can in a little way. I will pray. I will hit up a dear wonderful saint to pray for us. St. Therese died of TB. I think that is a connection that means something.

So brace yourself, you know what’s coming: nine days of novena posts. If you’re inclined to pray along with us (for our intention for Marta and the kids stuck in this tb cutlure mess and a special intention for a friend and/or for any of your own private intentions), then, by all means, join in! If you’re not interested…well, bear with me. I’ll post some of the usual prattling as well.

So, here we go!

Simple Novena to St. Therese of Lisieux :
The first Novena is easy, and is most dear to the Little Flower. It is the Twenty Four “Glory Be To the Father’s Novena and there is a little story attached with this one. In this fashion, from the ninth to the seventeenth of each month (although it can be said at any time), those who want to participate in this novena, should add to those of their own, the intentions of all who are at that time making the novena, thus forming one great prayer in common.

Father Putigan, a Jesuit priest, began the Novena to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus on December 3, 1925, asking the glorious Saint for one great favour. For nine days, he recited the “Glory Be” 24 times thanking the Holy Trinity for the favours and Graces showered on Saint Therese during the 24 years that she lived on this earth. The good father asked Saint Therese that as a sign that his novena was being heard, he would receive from someone a freshly plucked rose. On the third day of the novena, an unknown person sought out Father Putigan and presented him with a beautiful rose.

Father Putigan began the second novena on December 24 of the same year, and as a sign, asked for a white rose. On the fourth day of this novena, one of the Sister-nurses brought him a white rose, saying, “Saint Therese sent you this”

Amazed the priest asked “where did you get this?”

“I was in the chapel,” said the Sister, “and as I was leaving, I passed the alter above which hangs the beautiful picture of Saint Therese. This rose fell at my feet. I wanted to put it back in the bouquet, but a thought came to me that you should have it.”

The Twenty-four ‘Glory Be’s’ Novena to St. Therese

Father Putigan received the favours he had petitioned of the Little Flower of Jesus, and promised to spread the novena to increase devotion to, and bring her more honour. In this fashion, from the ninth to the seventeenth of each month, those who want to participate in the 24 Glory Be’s novena, should add to those of their own, the intentions of all who are at that time making the novena, thus forming one great prayer in common. This novena can be said at any time, however.

The Glory Be is said 24 times each day for nine days, in thanksgiving for all the blessings and favours given to Saint Therese of the Child Jesus during the 24 years of her life. Start the novena each day with this prayer:

“Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit, I thank You for all the blessings and favours You have showered upon the soul of Your servant Therese of the Child Jesus, during the 24 years she spent here on earth, and in consideration of the merits of this, Your most beloved Saint, I beseech You to grant me this favour, if it is in accordance with Your most Holy Will and is not an obstacle to my salvation.”

After this prayer, follow with the 24 Glory Be’s, between each of which should be included this short prayer”

“Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, pray for us.”

Original icon by
Sr. Marie-Celeste Fadden, Carmel of Reno

>Leap of faith

>Ok, jumping in again….
Closing our eyes, holding our breath…
And buying tickets tonight (By which I mean, reticketing and paying a bundle more) for Addis.

July 4.
Embassy, July 8.
We hope.
We pray.
This is a blind faith ticketing… new news.
Just travel dates for first embassy appointment after the 8 weeks of sputum culture.

Please please, pray we travel then, and bring our Marta home.

>Hope in wait

>Some days it’s hard.
Some days, not as hard, and life feels almost but not quite regular.
Those days there is a frisson of “Almost there…just half a bubble off plumb.”
Then, some days it’s harder still.

Last Sunday was Pentecost, as mentioned, I love Pentecost.
Because it brings the Holy Spirit: Grace, Hope.

Hope, spiritual hope, makes my heart skip a beat, or two.
It is a kind of dance.
A flutter of hands, to grasp, hold fast, squeeze tight as if it can be captured and kept.
Extend, let go and toss it back up in the air so it can shimmer down around me.
Filling the room, the air, my prayer, my breath, my heart.

Yesterday we got another photo of our sweet Marta.
And her face simply shines and sparkles.
She is laughing.
Dare I hope, her smile is bigger, her eyes dancing, more now than months ago?
Could it be us {yes, I’m so vain}?
Could it be simply being healthy again?
I don’ t know, but I know that they said she is a reader. Me too!
And somehow this news makes my heart skip a beat, silly I know.
But it’s a connection, when one is so desperately needed.
It’s a floating glitter of hope.
This is why the wait is so hard, for all of us maybe.
Because we can’t see our children, the path before us, the unknown.
That’s why these updates and pictures are so treasured, poured over, every last pixel perused, every letter analyzed.
We yearn to see, we yearn and grasp for hope.

But, today, I ran across this.
And I saw, “Ah.”
And it made my heart float a bit, my hands open…(this is for you too, Jen):

…Now hope that sees is not hope.
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness…
From Romans 8

I wait.
What I yearned for, hope…..
In a way, I’ve had it all along.
Because I wait.
I hope in this wait.


>It’s Ascension Sunday.
Well, officially the Feast of the Ascension was last Thursday….but here in the U.S., in most dioceses, the celebration of it is moved to Sunday.
Perhaps a touch confusing, yes….but really, the Ascension can be too.
How did He go? Floating serenely, in a flash of light, a crack of thunder, or just, gone? (I know, goofy, but I’m a visual gal, I think about it!)
I always wonder, how come the apostles weren’t crying, Mary weeping again?
I would be! I cry every time I have to say goodbye to most anyone, especially my son. But, apparently, they did not. Not ugly crying anyhow. I’m sure it was bittersweet though, it always is, isn’t it?

But here is the cool thing of Ascension, for me.
Ascension is all about preparation and promise.
Ascension is about home.
Yes, Christ had to go, we are left to walk this on our own in many ways.
But not really.
Because He promised to go to prepare for us to join him, to prepare us a place, a home, with Him, left us helpers and each other along the way.

And as a mom, as a mom who is awaiting her daughter to come home….soon soon please….this really resonates with me.
My Marta can’t really KNOW we are coming back to her, except we’ve told her so.
She has to be there on her own, but with our far-away-support and love and prayers and helpers…for now.
And we are prepared, have prepared, a place for her: a new room to share, fresh paint, new furniture, new clothes. We’ve carved out a spot in our home and hearts for our Marta, our new daughter.
We are all anticipating bringing her into her new place.
She is. We are.
And we wait for it.
She does. We do.

And even in this, this hard time…..if we look, once again, the family can model the most real thing in life: faith and love.
We can’t do it as well, or as graciously, or widely, as the Church.
But we can stumble along trying.
And today, I think about the idea of preparation; what it really is.

Today we are reminded that Christ prepares a place for each of us.
We prepare a place for each of our children and each other.
Doing so, even the small tiny mundane things of sippy cups and diapers, groceries and clean sheets…it’s all love in action.
Happily, we have feast days like today so we, (ok, I mean me) can see it more clearly through all the hubub of our busy days.
To remind us.
To say, “Remember.”
We each have a place.
It’s home.

>Mothers connected united

>It’s Mother’s Day. And I’m missing my daughter.

So, I’m stewing and reaching further and further the only way I can in my effort to bring my girl home. I’m sending this out to the world of moms, a plea that is relying on our connectedness, our unity as moms.

You see, you all know that we are having a hard time getting the right person to hear us. To HEAR us, see us, really look at this as a real live girl who is stuck away from her family, her mom….

And so today my mind is spinning..who can help people be heard? Who gets heard and seen? If Oprah Winfrey had a daughter stuck in this, would she be heard? Would Hilary Clinton be heard? Would Michelle Obama? Do you have to be a major world leader or celebrity to be heard or seen?

I don’t know….but I do know the power of connection.
I know the power of women to reach out to each other.

I know the amazing surprising connectedness of the blogosphere.

So, I’m taking a giant step. I’m posting this letter. It is a letter that was sent to join with other stories of the human cost of this policy. It’s about us. It’s about what this means to my family. This letter IS about us, our family, our daughter. However, this policy will snare other families, it already has and it will more. This policy has to change. So this letter is for the families coming behind us too.

And if you know anyone who might be able to hear and see this and make a difference, or just plain care….to try, to pray, to help – us or the next family snared by this..then please, pass it on.
Because we are united, we moms, I think…in wanting our children to be with us, safe, happy, ok. We want all the kids to be home, to find a home.
To come home.

That’s what we moms do….every day.

It’s long…but it’s real. It’s not meant to be along whining rant: it’s an attempt to show the layers of personal cost. Thank you for indulging a mom who will do whatever it takes to get her daughter home safe, now.

To whom it may concern:

We have a daughter in Africa, an AIDS orphan . . . placed in limbo by our own government. We are Tom and Michele Gautsch, we live in Tennessee. Tom is an Orthopedic Surgeon and Michele is a full time mom. We have a total of eight children now that we have adopted Marta (12 yrs old) in Ethiopia. Three of our children are biological and now five are adopted, three from the U.S. and two from Ethiopia.

We are very, very anxious to unite our family. We had the unfortunate timing of our court date being scheduled just behind the new TB screening regulations and we have been stopped in our effort to go and bring home our daughter, Marta, from Ethiopia.

We passed court successfully March 31, 2009, after just short of a year of work in the extensive adoption process. According to the Ethiopian government, Marta is our daughter in all ways, most certainly, legally. We know she is our daughter not only legally, but spiritually, morally, ethically – in all ways, she is our daughter. However, on March 23, 2009, the U.S. CDC began phasing in new TB SCREENING requirements, and it is the rigid interpretation of this protocol which is preventing us from bringing our daughter home, for at least two more months and possibly many more. Marta is a post tb patient, however her tb left a scar on her lungs, and thus on her chest xray. It will never be normal. The rigid application of this screening protocol doesn’t allow the panel physician to clear Marta to travel, even though she has a known tb status: post treatment. This protocol was for screening unknown tb status. Our Marta’s status is documented: adequate treatment, successfully completed.

The screening that Marta is being delayed for has never been proven to effectively reduce the rates of tuberculosis in the immigrant population. In fact, the vast majority of first world countries don’t do this screening at all, and the ones that do, screen the immigrants after they arrive in the country. If we were British, or French, or Norwegian, Marta would be home with us, right now. The CDC has arbitrarily decided to implement this policy in only twenty countries. There are seven countries with a higher endemic incidence of TB than Ethiopia, where the CDC does not require screening with TB cultures. If Marta was from China or India, both countries with ten times more TB prevalence than the U.S., she’d be home right now.

Our family was supposed to travel Saturday, April 25th to Addis Ababa to meet our daughter again and bring her home. We had an Embassy appointment for our visa scheduled on April 29th. On Friday afternoon, April 24th, the day before we were to travel, we were called by our agency and told not to come. This news, to say the least, was devastating. We had spent the past many weeks organizing and preparing for our trip. We had to make arrangements for the younger children to have a good caregiver in our home, plus of course prepare them for our time away. We had been gathering and organizing and packing our donations and humanitarian aid for many weeks. Thomas, the dad, had to make extensive arrangements to be away from his solo surgical practice, schedule patients for surgery around his planned trip in order to maximize their care as well. By Friday we were packed and ready to go, the excitement at the house was at a peak for all…until that call came. Then it all came crashing down.

In disbelief, Tom started manning the phones, trying to find a way, any way to talk to someone about this. Michele was simply devastated, crying, trying to console the kids while her heart was breaking. Tom spent until almost four a.m. researching the protocols, the actual risks of a post TB patient and learning the data on TB in immigrants in the US and around the world. He spoke with contacts at the CDC, as far away as Kenya, and everyone said, “This is silly, she should be able to travel, she’s post treatment.” So, until sometime after 4 a.m., the morning of the 25th, (we had to leave by 5:30 a.m.), we hoped to still make our flights and go meet our girl. However, we hit a wall of bureaucracy and were told, again, in the early hours of that morning, “don’t come.”

And so we did not go. Full stop. We have been wracked with worry over our daughter and depression over the situation. This manifests physically, in all the normal ways. It is hard to not be depressed, it is hard to kick back into the regular cheerful routines of a busy family life.

On a practical, material level, this has also had a tremendous cost. For Tom, he lost a week of work. When you schedule 10 days out of a solo surgical practice, it is not a simple matter to just fill your work schedule back up on the spur of the moment. You lose the days and the income that would have been generated. In fact, you continue to pay the normal operating expenses, but are not, literally, operating. This would have been a planned financial cost. But now, having to plan for an entire new trip, we will have to incur it twice. That is a very significant, large, financial burden. Of course our plane tickets, six of them, had to be returned, with penalties for cancellation and changes. Many other summer plans have had to be reworked and still have not been able to be figured out; this delay affects our children and extended families and their plans – put on hold – as well. Our bags of humanitarian aid remain stacked in our foyer. Our suitcases with personal clothes have been unpacked, but our smallest children still ask when we are going, confused.

For Marta’s health, she needs to come home and have adequate nutrition, safe surroundings and the love of a family to help her heal from the many traumas she has experienced in her life. Staying in an orphanage, half a world away from her parents and family, does nothing to help heal the heart and body of this child, our daughter. Even several months away from her family makes a difference to a child, especially one this age and with her life experiences.

The hardest part, perhaps, for our hearts as parents, is Marta’s experience. Marta is not a toddler or infant. She is an older child. She is twelve. So she has awareness of what is going on, but is not yet old enough to fully understand the details. Any older orphan, in particular, is going to really wonder if it could possibly be true: “do they really have a family? For real? Is it really going to happen?” Because to an orphan, one who has already lost both her parents and everything she ever had, ANYTHING can happen and NOTHING is forever or for sure. And this is what our Marta now has experienced: she wondered if we were really coming…they said we were. But – we didn’t show. And that was explained to her, they said, and they tried to make her understand the delays and that we would come as soon as we could. However, even if her head can hear and understand a bit of the explanation, what is imprinted on her psyche and her heart is the confirmation of her deepest fear: we didn’t show. Period. And that will have a long term cost to this young girl, and our family, that you can’t measure in computer data.

The CDC cannot measure the scar that is left by this. They can quantify the scar left on her lungs by the TB. But they cannot, nor do they care to, measure the scar left by this unwarranted delay. We can, we will live with it and try to help her over it. But this didn’t have to happen.

This can be changed with a simple decision to see Marta as an individual, as a patient if you like, but best, as a child. Marta is not a random immigrant who will vanish into the unknown masses in our country. She will not drain the country’s resources, nor will she be a risk to the health of the greater population. She is our child. She is coming into a family where her dad is a doctor. We had to prove we were willing and able to care of her, to the fullest extent, in every way and document this with Homeland Security, even before we were allowed to proceed with the long adoption process. We think you would be hard pressed to have a more documented or well tracked person come into the U.S. than an adopted child.

Marta is a child of U.S. citizens, her life and family is here. She is our daughter, and she needs to come home.


Tom and Michele Gautsch

>Connected. Part 2: The beauty

>It’s the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker.

That’s the same St. Joseph that is the dad on earth of Jesus and the patron of families.
Plus of course, he was no slouch as a worker…hence a day to remember that.
And today, as our family is in a struggle and we are working hard to somehow find a way through it, I have offered up my petitions to St. Joseph, for his intercession, relying on his kindness and understanding as a father, and a worker-bee too.

That said, I have spent this past week tumbling many thoughts around in my head. And yeah, you know what that means: I gotta post. And this is a stumbling exploration of all those thoughts and yup it’s centered on faith and prayer, and it’s Catholic too – so fair warning. Just stop right now if you’re not interested. But I gotta, I’ve already told you, it’s how I process.

Way back in July, I wrote a post on connections, here.
And in that post I marveled at the connections we find in blogland, and beyond.
This week, I’ve been able to marvel at those connections all over again, much more viscerally and intimately than ever before.

As most of you know, this time, almost exactly last week, our trip to Addis was boxed. I had just finished up my ugly-crying scene at Barnes and Noble and was at home, doubled over in sobs, watching Coffeedoc turn his mouth to that determined set and get to work trying to find another way to get to our daughter. I sniffed up my tears again and again and he kept researching and calling. We are still in that same process, just beating different bushes.

This week has been one of physical grief and frustration, glimmers of hope and kicks in the gut of reality…again and again. Worry and fretting and fear.
And much much prayer.
And this is what I’ve been tumbling around…all this messy mass of contradiction: hope, prayer, suffering, worry, acceptance, and connections. Coffeedoc and I have been talking a lot about all this, what it means, how to walk through it.

So, bear with me as I lurch along here:
Prayer. We have been praying. So hard. My prayers and this struggle is so much that I don’t actually have real, speakable words to verbalize anymore. Those were gone, just about this time last week. We are taught that the Holy Spirit will interpret out meager prayers, with unutterable groans, and carry them to the Father.
And really, I think that at this point maybe I’ve saved him a step.
My prayers are sort of an unspeakable toss. They are sort of “You know what’s best and You know my heart of hearts, here, here take’s too much for me.” And after that, even then, I can’t actually iterate those or any words, they are kind of silently, internally groaned. But this leaves me to that prayer? Is that good enough? What if they are not? But those, that, is what I’ve been left with before – in those most stressful times of hospitals and threats. So, maybe those prayers are worth enough anyhow.

Suffering. You know, this is a suffering. Not nearly so deep or intense as so many out there, I so realize that. We are grateful it’s not more, we recognize how fortunate we are to have this, relatively measly, suffering. God knows what wusses we are. But, even so, it is a suffering. It is full of fear and worry and physical literal hurt and depression. And for what? So many say, “worry won’t change anything.”
Well. Hmm. True.
However, suffering, it does.
Suffering, it transforms.
This is not to say we want to suffer.
Uh-uh, not me, um, ever, ok?
But that when we do, it transforms – not only us, dare I say it, but the world.
A little bit.
And in that, there is such beauty.

Now, before you all wig out and think I am some creepy masochist, I’ll tell ya now, “I’m not.”
But I have seen the beauty of this suffering first hand, intimately, both times connected to a daughter. The first time was when my little four year old girl had a life threatening status epilepticus seizure and was life flighted to the downtown children’s hospital and was in the pediatric ICU for three days. (A different long story. She recovered, thanks be to God.) This time, it is with another daughter, one I haven’t hugged yet and she is stuck in a bureaucratic trap, half a world away. Both times, the outpouring of love and caring and prayers and support, helped us, lifted us up, and also humbled us and blew our minds. Yup, now, I’m there.

Because here is where the transforming, the prayer, the connecting, the suffering becomes beauty. Prayer doesn’t change God’s mind. We are not praying as if we can somehow pick a tune on a jukebox, “I’ll take Elvis, B6.” Prayer transforms our hearts to grow to accept God’s will, if we truly want God’s will. And in the process of that prayer, we are brought closer to His heart. And in suffering, we get a chance to also come closer and have others called closer to that same heart.

Erk. I’m not saying this well, or right. {I talked about some of this to dear sweet Becca, too.}
But, through our suffering (and really, this is hardly cancer or dying or anything, it is just really really hard and frustrating and feeling so desperate….and that’s our own doing, as the pills we are)….I have seen such beauty in the compassion and outreach of friends and family and most of all, the blog community. Blog friends gave up food for us, fasted, for our needs yesterday. So many have been praying, and fasting even, for us. It is utterly humbling.

But, I think, me {so really, take it for what very little it’s worth}, that really is where the transformative nature of prayer – and suffering – starts to play in. By our (measly) suffering (tho doesn’t feel measly, you get my drift); we offer it in prayer, and unite it intimately with the suffering Christ experienced. And that, Christs own suffering is what is calling to all of you others who are so giving and kind and supportive of US….that intimacy, that call to help, that urge to help that you/others feel is a response in LOVE which is nothing if not Christ, who IS love and so we are all transformed, and there, there is the glory of God.

It’s not in having our wants/needs worked out perfectly, but in bringing more of that glory, that love, into this dark hard world. It’s in each of us stretching out in love to console the other…there it is, right there.
It’s us getting to participate, willingly suffer/help carry the burdens of others, so that, like a small kid, we can help, even to change the world a little bit by the effort. We get to help. I see the big huge GLORY of it even as I feel and know the small personal intimate union of it all too….. Ack.

That is the transformative nature of suffering…you get the whole package, and it calls to others and so, mirrors, images, unites, us to Christ.

So. That’s just way cool to me. Even as I wallow and feel sick and so so deep blue down…..I can recognize that much, because God knows what a weenie I am and need something to hang on to. And I can, and do, and will hang on to the connections…and hope to be able to do the same for someone else, next time it’s needed. I see it in many many repeated emails, the flowers Jess sent me, and in the fasting Becca started, in the unexpected, providential or coincedental (?), connections like Lori…….and it all humbles me and makes me shiver in awe.

My kids make fun of me for my blog and my blog friends. But I don’t care. Because I said it last time, and I’ll say it again: We are connected, amazingly enough. I, even if only I, am lifted up by the connections. Which help me to remember one of my very favorite hymns, and one of Jana’s and one of it’s really good lines:

“We lift our hearts before you and wait upon your word”

At the best, when we are all at our best, when we, dare I say, are transformed into our best……we can walk through this all together – adoptions or other things – suffer, wait, help bear the burden and shout with glee, as we each wind our way through this long, often difficult, road….looking for the light at the end, waiting on His word.

“and whether our tomorrows
be filled with good or ill,
we’II triumph through our sorrows
and rise to bless you still”

So, maybe this is just a very long stream of consciousness thank you, because I don’t really have the words to say it well or nearly nearly enough. But for all of you, your thoughts, prayers, support…no matter the outcome: Oh, my, thank you. Thank you.

>Where’s the Map?


** warning**
I process things by talking and typing…
it’s how I do it, ‘thinking out loud, so to speak/type’
and so I have to post and then I’ll try to stop whining.
But I will put up a kid pic tomorrow instead, I promise, you’ve done your time.**

Here we are.
We’ve been over the what’s and why’s, below.
We are stuck, my daughter is stuck in a bureaucratic mill.

And so now, while Coffeedoc still tries to figure out how to turn this around, if remotely possible, we have to move forward.
And I want to know: where’s the map?

I know, I know.
There IS NO map.
I am to move forward in faith.
Next step, pitch black.
Next step, go.
Well….I’m trying.
I really am.

I’d just dearly love to do this with tremendous grace and ease and show that it’s not so hard, it can be done with a minimum of effort and a smidgeon of faith.

But you know, I am not graceful, never have been.
I am a clumsy mess, most of the time.
And apparently, especially now.

And, even for those with faith, this sort of thing is a challenge.
And I DO believe God knows what the perfect timing is, and I do really want His choice….but I’d sure really like it to jive up with mine, when push comes to shove.
So, yeah, I’d like to holler out: “I want a map, please.”

How do we move forward?
This is uncharted water, in many ways.
What do I do with this grief and this worry and fear?
Do I just set it aside and pray over it and look at it as I pass by in the normal hectic rush of my days?
Do I just set it aside and ignore it, hoping it will go away if I don’t give it any attention?
Do I ogle it and lose myself inside it, my very own “precious” as I morph into Gollum?
Do we blithely throw ourselves back into the hum of our busy lives here, and just kind of not think about it all, lose ourselves in the busy?
Can I?
I don’t know what to do with all this.
I want a map.

What do I do with the very real fact that I have a daughter, there, not here…
in every way she is mine: legally, sacredly, morally, committedly (I know it’s not a real word, but I don’t care), ethically, our responsibility, and growing in our hearts to what degree she can at this point.
What do we tell the world? “Yeah, we have a daughter, she’s in a foster home, in Ethiopia.”
{Not that the world is so important here; I find this not sitting well within my own chest either}
According to the Ethiopian government, she is our responsibility.
Our child.
According to the US govt, that may be true but we can’t get her.
What do we do with that?
How long? What if it’s for so very, very long?
Do we set her up with a Nanny in a separate home?
Do we move there and ditch the business and life we’ve built here?
What’s realistic?
Do we move over there temporarily, also ditching the business and school and doctors and life here that we have built and also need and others who need us?
Do we split the family up to move there for awhile?
Live separately?
How do we honor our ties to her and care for her from here, when our hands are tied in so many ways?


I don’t know what to do with all this, this grief and worry and wonder.
I DO so so want a map.
But I know, in faith, that I don’t get one.

So, I will do the only thing I know how: I will hurt through this and I will do the next thing.
I will do the next load of laundry.
I will make the next meal.
I will referee the next fuss.
I will pick up that set of shoes off the floor.
I will hug my sweaty toddler, Gabey, when he wakes up from his nap.
And I will think about her, aching, every single step of the way.
And I will offer it all up, in faith, and hope, and a little bit of kvetching in my prayers.

And I will remember God’s answer to one who was truly really hurt {Yeah, Job} when He said “Did you hang the moon, the sun, the heavens?” (That’s my paraphrase, you get the idea…I say the same thing in essence to my kids:’I know what you want, leave me alone I know what I”m doing and you don’t have a clue’).

Yesterday, I read this, it helped a bit, it’s from a French Carthusian, named Dom Augustin Guillerand, O. Cart.

In all that we do, and at every moment, God has ordained an exact balance between what we have to do and the necessary strength to do it; and this we call grace. Our part is to bring ourselves into line with grace.
God uses all the horrors of this world for an infinitely perfect end, and always with an infinite calm. It is part of his plan that we should feel the blows and experience the wounds of life: but more than anything else he wants us to dominate them by virtues of faith, hope and charity, and so live on his level. It is these latter which will raise us up to him, and then we shall share in his calm, and in the highest part of our being.

So I will do the next thing, again and ongoing: pray for the virtues of faith, hope and charity, and so hope to find the calm in the ache.
And try hard to stop searching for that map and just keep taking the next step.

>Full Stop: No Go Pt 2

>Well, here we are.
And here we will be.

Despite Coffeedoc’s superhuman effort for the past 48 hours {and still he keeps turning things over in his head, stewing, examining, looking for a way}, we now know: we don’t go.

We are full of those fruitless useless “what if’s”: “if only the embassy doc interpreted the protocol more specifically” “if only the embassy doc had her classified properly” “if we had only had a court date a few weeks earlier” “if they didn’t have such a lag when our papers hit” etc etc etc.
Recrimination and fretting is ridiculous selfish sad bitter taste.
Those “ifs” are pure torture and pure pity party, but almost impossible to stem {and I’d by lying if I said they didn’t flit through our heads}.

Make no mistake, while our pity party has been thrown for us to be sure, it is ever more so iced with the deep worry over our Marta, what this means for her, to her, how she is understanding and dealing with it all and how it might pan out. And that worry is deep and true. She is a child, caught in a bureaucratic machine.
And I can find myself frozen in the fears of that.

But. Here is where we are, on the objective surface of things:
New proposed Embassy date: July 8 (my big brother’s bday).
New proposed travel date: July 4

New prayer bleg, even more serious: please please pray for a clear culture (our CDC friend pointed out that cultures in kids are always dicey, easily contaminated, unpredictable..frequent false positives….which would lead to disaster for our girl).
That’s it. Just a clear culture, no growth, heck, sterile even!

My unspeakable thanks and gratitude for the support and prayers and emails.
They mean the world and help so much. Thank you.
And I do trust in God’s will, even when I cannot fathom it and it’s hard to walk through…
I choose to trust it {even when my controlling reflex is to rail at it and cause a scene in Barnes and Noble}.

And, in the meantime, we try to stand back up and catch back our breath from the hollowed out cavity in our chest that is scraped clean and raw but is somehow so much heavier.
And we pray through the hurt and sorrow of it all, pray through the hard.

Because even though, even that, is so hard and our words are gone….
what else do we have to do, or hang on to, but that?

>No Go

>One last, last ditch effort to explore.
Otherwise it’s July, at the earliest.
Govt’ protocols are complex, and you can get caught by them when they are left to individual interpretation.
International adoption is not for the faint of heart.

Ours hurt.
We are devastated.

>Packing in Prayer


Yup. Packing. Praying.Not done yet.

{You might think so….but NO,
still missing three more suitcases
and three more backpacks.
And quite a bit more prayer for good news to go.}