Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Email

We got an email today, one in a long line of emails that we will be anticipating. This one said, "Congratulations. Your dossier is in Addis Ababa and you are now officially waiting." I decided to take this one step further. MY email said, "It's sort of like I'm pregnant." And my very funny friend said that my uterus is on the other side of the world.

Ah, humor. We're going to need it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Question I Need to Ask

Who left the owl pellet on the kitchen table?

A Day for Realism and Dreaming

I planted the blue flowers yesterday. They have been stepped on twice now despite the big sign that says "Do Not Step on the Plants" and the big, poky sticks I put up around them to impale anyone who forgot. While my plants may "tolerate drought and a little crowding" I don't think they will thrive under boys' shoes. We'll see. I'll go prop them up again in just a minute.

The other thing we're doing is finishing off our blue and pink peeps that are sort of like...hmm. What is sort of like a stale, hard marshmallow? No matter what the consistency, I can't help but dream a little bit and think, "Next spring at this time, will we have another who thinks a Blue Peep is an awesome dessert?"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Children as Flowers

I ordered flowers from one of those catalogs. I must have placed my order back in the late '90s for I can no longer remember what they are nor where I was planning to plant them. I know I had a plan; I am not the type to order flowers spontaneously. 

Hooray, then, for the internet, which could enlighten me on exactly what is a "Cupid's Dart" and: do deer eat it? does it need full sun? will it come back by itself? do I have to dig it up in the fall? does it need water? can it thrive on neglect? The happy news is, I seemed to have ordered well. Here is the description:

Cupid's Dart are an attractive, easy to grow perennial flower. These blue daisies look great in a flowerbed, and offer striking contrast to other flowers in the bed.

Once established, Cupid's Dart plants will grow for years with little attention. They are drought tolerant, and don't mind a little crowding.

And there, thought I, is the type of children I wouldn't mind having around too. Most days. Ok, some days. It's the "don't mind a little crowding" part that I really like.

 Joel told me he had a dream that Agitu referred a child to us already. It made my legs go weak.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Saying No Thanks to the God of the Universe

Today I was reminded of when I responded to God in a "no thank you" sort of way. I cleverly disguised it: I heard Him wrong, He forgot how many kids we already have, Addis had had cancer, not a teenage pregnancy. So God pursued me. Thankfully. 

The first way He did it was when I was being grumpy at the library checkout. This particular library is "self checkout." That means that while I unsuccessfully place my books under a red laser that I'm not supposed to look at, the librarian stands on the other side of the desk staring at her computer. I think she has a tally on her screen of how many times per book it takes me to scan the bar code. When I had reached my limit, and then some, I tried to charm her into doing her job. "I don't think I have the touch," I said. Translation: "I will steal these books if you do not come over and help me." While she successfully scanned each book on the first try, I glanced about trying to look occupied. That's when it happened: a book called, "There is No Me Without You, One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue her Country's Children."

Because it didn't say anything about Ethiopia in the title, I picked it up. Had it said Ethiopia, I honestly think I would have left it on the shelf. There were no pictures on the front. I opened it to the pictures in the middle. Undoubtedly, Ethiopian children. Beautiful, haunting, parentless Ethiopian children. I handed it to the Scanning Librarian. "I need this one too," I said vacantly, knowing now that God had broken into my life and there was no going back. 

I read to page 23. I stopped and ordered my own copy from Amazon. I kept reading. I dreamed about orphans. I couldn't put the book down. I read paragraphs to my husband until he just sighed and put his book down. 

I hope this book is old news to many; if it's an unfamiliar title and you're interested in Ethiopia, don't even bother with the library. Just go to Amazon. Maybe buy a couple. Addis is reading my copy right now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Big Accomplishment

Sometimes I find things to do that don't get undone for, say, 7 to 8 weeks. This is one of them. Or three of them. HAIRCUTS.

Not the best pictures but I feel like it is a recordable version of the fact that I try to be a responsible parent. Now if only my blog could smell like bleach.

Monday, April 20, 2009

One little email

People who have adopted internationally will read this and think, "She has no idea how long this wait is actually going to be," and they'd be right. I thought about my anxious, excited, impatient, thrilled self and realized I may still be waiting in December. If I keep up this level of emotion, I will have aged significantly and may lose the sympathy and interest of my own family. So, yesterday was about calming down. 

And today I get an email that says we are days away from "officially waiting." 

Glad my coffee was half caff. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I ran a race today. I didn't race; just ran. I ran for so long I had plenty of time to notice things around me and then think about it for awhile afterwards. Here's what you get if you run with "my people."

1. Two people who discuss how many sirens there were when a friend of theirs had a heart attack.

2. Two men who ask each other how the knee surgery is affecting the stiffness of their knees.

3. A man in spandex running shorts with flames. Think Hot Wheel Car Zooba Pants shrunken and on a 50 year old man.

4. A man with a hat that had the word "Runner" embroidered on the back of it. That's because having running shoes, running shorts, a running shirt, a race number and running must not have been enough to alert us to the fact that he was a runner. 
a. I did think of one time when this sort of labeling would be helpful. I would wear something similar the next time I go to Walmart, only my hat/shirt/etc. would be emblazoned with the word "Shopper." That way, I wouldn't be confused with "Employee" as I have been. Twice.

5. A man who could have been my great grandfather say to me, "Are you all right? You doing ok?" accompanied by raised Eyebrows of Concern. Probably the universal signal for "Should I call 911?"

6. A description given of someone loud enough for me to hear and disturbing enough for me to remember: "Oh, you know Cliff. He's sixty years old and a gynecologist. He's very open about how much he loves women."
a. Note to self: Do NOT schedule an exam with anyone named Cliff.

I wasn't last. I finished. A glass of wine sounds really good.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Adopting the President

I thought I would expand Zeke's cultural horizons today. I went onto the Yahoo site (of which I am now a member) where people adopting through the agency we're adopting through can share pictures, stories, questions and information. It is another venue through which I get to drive myself crazy.

I decided Zeke would benefit most from seeing pictures of kids in the orphanage in Ethiopia. 
I pulled up the first one of a baby girl, probably 9 or 10 months old. He looked at her very seriously and then said, "Obama."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Being Crazy

We needed one more letter to complete our dossier. We needed it by today. It was in Eden Prairie. We are not close to Eden Prairie really at all. I put Eden Prairie in the same camp with places like Sioux Falls or Des Moines. However, as yesterday afternoon loomed with no apparent plans other than music, chores and the organization of 5 children, I decided I would drive there. After all, I reasoned, I'll be flying halfway around the world to pick up our child; I might as well drive half way across Minnesota (well, almost) to get a letter. 

A couple things I learned after my road trip:

1. I have a new respect for anyone who drives on 35W to 62 west. 

2. My 7 year old does not have the capacity to look both ways before he pretends to be "A motorcycle guy" and rides across the street.

3. I have a new appreciation for the person in our neighborhood who drives a red Honda that has brakes.

4. My 7 year old can't cross the street anymore.

5. My hair can look like cats were fighting in it.

6. Our dossier leaves for Washington D.C. tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Who Started All of This Part 5

This is the week. In 2008, Joel and I were getting ready to go on a date. We got a call from Children's Hospital. It was Addis who sounded like her usual cheerful self, except that she was calling from a hospital. She told us she would be having surgery the next day and, hearing that, we decided our date would be a drive to St. Paul. 

When we got there, we chatted with her, joked around, shared some chocolate and prayed. To none of us did it seem possible that the next day she would be diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. I do know now that our lives were changed and we are the better for it.

Her Caring Bridge site is still up ( but it sort of seems like "old news." What is thrilling to write is that she is graduating from high school, aspires to be a nurse practitioner and has been accepted to 2 colleges. She loves God, her family and her friends. 

Addis's time in the hospital, her struggles, her illness, our complete reorientation to the preciousness of life, our love for the children we have, all seem to have come together to make us look forward to an Ethiopian little girl.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Little Updates

1. Joel and I went in for our "biometrics" today. Besides having my fingerprints partly "worn off" (the woman asked me, "Do you have kids and wash your hands a lot?"), we seemed to do just fine. We exhibited no open wounds. And, by the way, biometrics are just fingerprints. I was imagining something a bit more exotic.

2. We met a lovely couple while we were at the USCIS office. They were there to get ready for their second adoption from Korea. They had adopted a little boy whom they named Josiah. A year ago in June, he died after heart surgery. 

3. I went on a run today. When I go, I allow myself to think about our adoption. I was thinking about being worried. It occurred to me that I worry because I think that maybe God won't do things the way I want Him to. It then occurred to me that I would much rather have Him do things His way than mine. Worry put on the back burner...for now.

4. Instead of praying and asking for things, I tried to think of songs I really like. Instead of having Skip to My Lou stuck in my mind (a song I don't really like at all), I had part of a song go through my head that said this: "Every inch of this universe belongs to You, oh Christ, for through You and for You it was made." It was a great song to accompany a run through the country, until I came to...

5. Two scary dogs. One went in front of me, the meaner one went behind. I, armed with a water bottle, tried to think of What To Do When Facing Aggressive Dog Advice I knew. Unfortunately, I have also tried to acquaint myself with what to do if I were to ever face a bear and/or a mountain lion. All the Not Dying By Animal Advice came at me without the clear distinction to know which animal it really worked on: bang pots and pans; don't show your teeth, don't show fear, be the dominant one, don't make eye contact, don't come between them and their young... Bear? Mountain lion?Dog? I still don't know. I got home. The cows got a big kick out of it. The dogs let me walk down the road. The cows weren't interested in ripping me apart.

6. I still can't wait to meet our little girl.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Inexplicable Impatience

I am really, really struggling with impatience today that verges on being really, really sad. I feel like I am missing someone I've never met. I feel like I've lost something that I've never had. I think I am worried that I won't be able to make it through all of this. And then I worry because I don't even really know what "this" is.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who Started All of This Part 4

I loved the summer of 2005. We were back in Minnesota. We had 6 children. We had 3 girls, 3 boys. Our family took outings, did chores, worked on school, ate a lot, swam, biked, ran, went on picnics and played games. We painted cupboards, painted walls, and generally settled in. We tried to garden and ended up with some pretty great daffodils.  

In August, our family went back to having 4 children. Addis and Tabor returned to Cono. I thought I would feel relieved. Instead, I felt lost. I made too much food, set too many places at the table and worried about whom I had forgotten when we got in the car to go somewhere. Game night felt small. Our family felt small.  

Now, it all makes sense. 

Our dossier is supposed to go to Washington D.C. on Friday. My in laws are coming Friday. It is my son's 11th birthday today. I made a cake and cleaned the refrigerator. He's getting a globe, a pair of flip flops and his own box of Twinkies. His birthday supper choice: fried chicken, tater tots, salad and lemon cake with lemon frosting. Life has this way of looking normal. I hopefully share that way as well. But I, in my weaker moments, google the guest house in Ethiopia....  


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Not About Me

One lesson I find difficult to learn is this one: it's not about me. On Wednesday, I asked a wise mom about her experiences adopting from Ethiopia. She told me 2 things that have been ringing in my head ever since. I should probably say I was convicted. I needed to be.

1. I do not want the children that I see other people bringing home. 
How did she know I had been you tubing Ethiopian adoption?? I really had and was insanely jealous of everyone I saw holding their new child, giving a first bath, relishing a first meeting with siblings. What I realized is that wanting those children is like going to a hospital nursery and longing to take home one of those babies. Those babies are not mine. They are not meant for me. Yes, we are "expecting" but it's not time to bring home our baby. yet.

2. What is happening in the children's lives is very sobering
She said this as we talked about our desire to have our timing work out well. I can think of adoption as a set of errands that I want to go well--no backtracking, no forgetting anything, no inconvenience and I want to be home in time to start supper. 
She shared with me that on the day she and her husband were approved, her Ethiopian children watched their father die. That, indeed, is sobering.

My son hit his arm really hard on a swingset today and then fainted. I'm counting on significant consumption of Doritoes and ice cream to be indicators that he is fine. He also just told me he "really wants something to do today. Like have you wrestle me." 
"Eli, I am not going to wrestle you on a day you fainted."
"But I could beat you still..."(trying to entice me)
"I don't care. Get a football. I'll throw it at you."

Joel and I are still free from biometrically interfering open wounds.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Weird Letters with Creepy Small Print

Today Joel and I received two letters in the mail. The return address is "Department of Homeland Security." It is still a little unsettling to receive something from them even when one is expecting it. The letters that came today invite us to be fingerprinted in St. Paul. It is important to make sure that we are not pursuing adoption and crime.

Here's the creepy small print.
"If you have open wounds or bandages/casts when you appear, the USCIS may reschedule your appointment if it is determined your injuries will interfere with taking your biometrics." 

Really? I don't even know what my "biometrics" are but if I have wounds that are serious enough to interfere with them, I think I might be in the emergency room instead. Good thing this bit of information was offset with a large, bold, capitalized WARNING! or, had I received a biometrically interfering open wound before next Saturday, I might not have thought a thing of it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Who Started All of This Part 3

Next in line is my husband. He read the article and told me we needed to get the Wolde kids here. I responded with a resounding, "Hmm. Ok. Sounds like I better read that article too."

For the next several months, Joel emailed the American Embassy in Ethiopia. The outlook wasn't good; so few kids had come to our school right from Ethiopia. 

Not content to deal just with the Embassy, Joel also made some phone calls to writers of Runner's World and a particularly memorable one to Barbara Bowerman: the wife of the founder of Nike shoes...

One night, I was helping a dorm girl with math. Joel had to go to his office for a minute and said, "I put in a call to Barbara Bowerman today." Just after he left, the phone rang. "Oh, well now, that's probably Barbara," I said. And it was. Speechless, I frantically motioned the now catatonic dorm girl from her irrelevant math problems to "run like the wind" to get Joel. Having been sarcastic one minute and humbled the next, I was too busy fighting the barrage of sanctification to have any sort of meaningful conversation. I would have settled for idle chit-chat even. Nothing. So, my conversation with the Founder of Nike's Wife went like this: "Oh....HI!! Um, could you hold on for just a minute? I'm going to, uh, run and, uh, get my husband who called you." And while I'm at it, I'll just take my favorite pair of NIKES... I didn't actually say that. Joel had the conversation. 

In August came the news. The family was coming. We flew into a frantic, disorganized readiness plan. We had to raise money for their airfare; a family familiar with Ethiopia offered to fly there and bring them to Iowa. Within a few months, the money had been raised, the tickets purchased and in October of 2004, there were 3 Ethiopians standing on my front lawn.