Stitched together

See this quilt? Right there?  Well, it’s mine! Yup! And, out of a spirit of decorum I will not whoop, too loudly, so as not to make you all feel bad.

But, I want to say…it’s gorgeous, beautiful and wonderful.  You see, I won this quilt through the silent auction hosted by JC Marie for the Kololo School through the Tesfa Foundation.  I had little  hope of winning, after seeing how beautiful the quilt was…and yet, with the help of a good proxy bidder and friend, I did and now it is already well used in my room.

The artist is an adoptive mom herself, Andrea Fox, and let me say, this quilt is just lovely.  It’s fabrics were carefully selected and designed (by another adoptive mom of a Haitian child), it is colorful and charming, it is beautifully crafted, and the back is soft as butter in sky blue. Even the note she sent with it was made from handmade paper…loveliness abounding.

The quilt is wrapable art and it is just what the best quilts are all about: connections and community.  And that is just why I’m so smitten by it.  This quilt is a soft touchable connection for me and my kids to other families like ours, across the continent and even across the ocean.  We are sort of stitched together, even in this quilt, by our love for our kids and their home country and our love of books and yearning to get access to more books and schools for kids.

Some might scoff and say I make too much of this.  I disagree.  Those connections, those stitches, are so important for us moms, our families, and especially for our kids from afar.  All those stitches sew hearts and minds together in support of things that are bigger than our doddering, pottering or crashing days.  And when my cherished little Ethiopian boy pads into my room, snuffling and sleepy-eyed, I can wrap him up in this quilt and know that he is embraced not only by me, but, in a way, by so many other hearts….connected by stitches of caring for these, our children of the world.

For any brave souls , look for the tiny “comment” below.

>Cool Convergence

> So how cool is this? This is one for you Chris, and you Tom, and you Marta….and all you Ethiopian adoption folks.  This is a nun, now living in Jerusalem, who is Ethiopian and also a pianist.  So in this one woman we have so many of the interests and passions and parts of our family: music, piano, Ethiopia, faith, prayer, Holy Land, religious life:

Read below from BoingBoing (or go and see for yourself):

“Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou is a nun currently living in Jerusalem. She grew up as the daughter of a prominent Ethiopian intellectual, but spent much of her young life in exile, first for schooling, and then again during Mussolini’s occupation of Ethiopia’s capitol city, Addis Ababa, in 1936. Her musical career was often tragically thwarted by class and gender politics, and when the Emperor himself actually went so far as to personally veto an opportunity for Guèbrou to study abroad in England, she sank into a deep depression before fleeing to a monastery in 1948. “

“Today, she spends up to seven hours a day playing the piano in seclusion.  A compilation of her compositions was re-issued on the consistently great Ethiopiques label. You can read more about her life at the Emahoy Music Foundation.”

And more on her religious/music life from the Emahoy Music Foundation:

Young Yewubdar secretly fled Addis Abeba at the age of 19 to enter the Guishen Mariam monastery in the Wello region where she had once before visited with her mother. She served two years in the monastery and was ordained a nun at the age of 21. She took on the title Emahoy and her name was changed to Tsege Mariam. Despite the difficult life in religious order and the limited appreciation for her music in traditional Ethiopian culture, Emahoy worked fervently day and night. Often she played up to nine hours a day and went on to write many compositions for violin, piano and organ concerto.”

nee, Yewubdar Gebru c. 1940
Celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem
I love a convergence like this.  It just reminds me how very small the world is in some ways.  The piano solo is beautiful (I LOVE the piano).  I don’t know her of course, but still….there’s that connection of touchpoints.   And it’s cool.  
{h/t to Anchoress, and boingboing}

>Risks of Adoption

>There are many risks in adoption.
The list can be long: time, money, public perception and opinion, exhaustion, attachment issues and so on and so on.

But one of the risks is specific to international adoption, and the travel.
This risk is not written about so much, specifically. It is alluded to.
It is often tossed around in conversation; sometimes in a flip dismissive cocktail party comment.

But it is a real risk.
It is more real than some, maybe many, would like to admit.

It is the risk of tearing your heart.
It is NOT the risk of opening your heart, the stretching that you do to make room for your next child – the one you have jumped through hoops for and finally, blissfully, amazingly have in your arms. That expansion is a known, accepted and expected event and/or process.I want to talk about the surprising hole that is torn in your heart, your soul if you will, after visiting these kids in the orphanages.
I know, it’s an old story. Drippy songs have been sung. Boxes have been stood upon to make speeches. Just by typing this I know I lost a chunk o’ readers. Yadda yadda.
It’s been done. It’s been said. I know.

But it’s a whole ‘nother thing to go and see and touch these kids, big or small. Jen Cantwell writes about this. Go, read if you dare (bring a tissue).
I am putting this out there, again, because it’s been more than three months now since we were there: in Addis Ababa, at the orphanages. Time enough for the hectic balm of our modern life to fuse those shredded seams…right? You would think so. But, no.
There are seemingly permanent jagged ragged edges now. A gash. More than one.
We were wounded, and didn’t know the risk. And it’s done. No bandaid is gonna cover it up and smooth it out. Or should, maybe. And I’m not complaining. I’m just saying…it’s the risk that goes kind of unspoken.
They don’t have a chapter on this in the books. They don’t have a page in the agency manual or travel info:

Warning: upon meeting the children in the local orphanages you might experience a certain sorrow. This is likely to continue and in fact can manifest in the positive upswing in overall gratitude and a more global perspective and outreach but it is important to consider that it is also a fairly certain risk of a significant shear in the fabric of your heart.”

So, for those in the process and paperchase, or considering international adoption:
Fair Warning. There are risks below the surface of adoption.
You could be torn, just a bit, but forever.

>Keep it Simple: Charity:Water

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Because I am a techno-simpleton, I cannot get this video link to work without totally wonking up my page layout or something weird. So, go to the source to see it. It’s worth the look!

Now, I know, I hope you all are seeing this around the web. But I am a little slow and I just found it. Thanks Lori!

And I don’t do politics, and I don’t usually even do charitable plugs. I think most of us do the most we can and are very able to determine where and how we can contribute, on our own.

But, well, this one is worth it. This one is about the basics. No political agenda. No mixed up, muddied up involvement . Simple. Basics. Rock bottom fundamental human dignity. What every living soul is entitled to. Period.

My son, my Buddybug, was born in September. So, I love this even more. And this year they are in Ethiopia, which of course also holds such a special place in my heart. Go, look, see, donate, open eyes, hearts, wallets.

We all deserve the basics. It really is that simple.

>Archangel Gabriel, Ethiopian Icon

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The Archangel Gabriel
From an icon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

This is of course, in keeping with the feast of the Annunciation today, had to put this up too, since you don’t have the annunciation without the messenger!

Now I love icons, they are called, “windows into heaven.” I haven’t seen too many icons from Ethiopia (although you can find some more and read about them here), but I did run across these and I am tickled to find Ethiopian versions. It’s especially nice to find an Archangel Gabriel who is not only depicted w/ flowing blond hair… We have a particular fondness for Gabriel, the messenger, and we hope he is watching over our boy in Ethiopia even now.

>The Feast of the Annunciation

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Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation, (moved from March 25th, due to lent). This is the day the church celebrates the feast of the Annunciation: the Archangel Gabriel coming to Mary and the most important “yes” ever in history. Fiat. “Yes, I will.” Her consent to become the Mother of God. Read more if you like here.

As an adoptive mom, and a mom of biological kids, I tremble (with that adrenaline rush of shocked thrill and joy, but also with the ‘bigness’ of it all) each time we are presented with a child, or even when the child is “announced.” I cannot imagine how she must have trembled. And yet, she said “let it be done.” It is an awesome and fearsome responsibility, to care for a child and give them what they need – this gift from God.

We are waiting impatiently to go get our little boy. As I worry, dream, and wonder about him, this feast day resonates with me.

There are so many unknowns, is he ok, will he be ok, will he bond to us, what will make him laugh, will he be frightened and wary, will I be good enough to work through it all and do well enough by him and all our kids, what kind of cookies will he like, how soon can we get there, will the traveling work out, will he pass court, will we be able to make him smile, how will he feel in my arms, will he and his just older brother be close and laugh and wrestle, will just being there tear my heart open again and again? I stare at his pictures, imprinting his eyes, his face.

But even as all those wonders and worries float around in my head, I hear Mary’s echo from long ago: Fiat. I will. We will. Let it be done. We will love and raise this boy, our own, fiat.

>To catch up

>Ok, the main impetus for me to start this blog is to keep up with the amazing and talented Ethiopian adoptive families bunch of blogs that I read all the time. Not in a ‘keeping up with the Joneses” sort of way, but rather in a “hey count me in, part of the family” sort of way!

So, here is the short version of our Ethiopian Adoption Adventure:

First, after adopting domestically three times, we figured we were done. Big family, busy, getting older…all the usual stuff. There was this book, however, way out there on my radar. This book, I knew I couldn’t read. So. I didn’t. Not for oh, a year or more. Then, finally, I did. Of course, any of you families in process already know the title: There Is No Me Without You” by Melissa Fay Greene. So, I read the book, and read parts to my husband. We both cried and it tore us up and well, we knew that just maybe, oddly enough, we were being nudged to open ourselves to another adoption. Yes, it seemed nuts, but we figured that long ago we took the stance “as many kids as God would send us, whatever manner that happened”…so we figured if it was supposed to happen, it would. Prayerfully, nervously, we started the research into Ethiopian adoption.

Now, I am a consumate, compulsive researcher. So I spent the summer researching all our options and what was out there, the agencies and experiences of so many others. Finally we decided on Gladney Adoptions and have never looked back.

We thought of adopting a boy, infant or toddler, since we had three boys but the oldest had moved off to college and out of the house, we also had three girls, closer in age, but still two boys, one teen and one young one. So, since it seemed that boys were harder to place (at least in our research) and well, we loved boys and had one who was just the right age for another brother, well, that is where we would start.

We contacted Gladney in late September, got our homestudy done w/ our earlier local agency {approved for a toddler boy 0-18 months and a sib up to age 4, either gender, if that presented} again by the end of October and were approved by Gladney in early December….when everything came to a screeching halt as our dossier was totally ready too except for that one elusive letter: the immigration approval, not so fondly known as the I-171H form. Apparently, the southern office just takes a while. We waited, and waited, and waited. For 13 weeks. Finally it came and thanks to the amazing Kate of KBS Dossiers, we went on wait list on January 28th of this year.

Then we started waiting again, closely following all the blogs of more hip and happening and cyber-savvy families. We tried to hunker down and know that we would be waiting for 3- 5 months. I hate waiting. You might think I would be good at it, having lots of kids and having adopted three times before. I am not. I am not patient, in fact, my theory is that is one reason God has sent me so many children, I am a slow learner…but I digress.

Joyfully, and to our great surprise, we got a referral for a 14 month old boy on March 14th. He is beautiful and we accepted the same day. And to our even greater shock and wonder and joy, we got a court date on the day after Easter, while driving home from a family visit to our college boy. We love Natalie!! We love Natalie’s phone calls!

So. Now we have a court date for April 17 and we are praying for first pass, even as we keep praying for all the other waiting families for court dates and passes too. This is killing us, as we see our little guy and know that he is getting bigger by the day and he just needs to come home, to his final home, with us.

So, now as we ask favors of our fellow families {thank you Lori and Ted! Thank you Albertsons! You are awesome!} we figure it’s only fair to give you our own version of our crazy wonderful life.

I know. Be happy, that’s the short version!