Tuesday, March 31, 2009


So, my presentation for the International Fair is on Thursday. I am looking for ideas. Here's what I have so far:
  • coffee beans (American and Ethiopian, seriously- they look different!) and the legend of how coffee was discovered
  • Pictures of various places in Ethiopia
  • Pictures of native Ethiopians in traditional (and non-traditional) garb
  • Pictures of coffee ceremony and a little explanation of roasting the beans, popcorn, etc.
  • A few words/phrases in Amharic
  • CD of Ethiopian music playing
  • A few Ethiopian story books
  • Some banana-leaf artwork to be displayed
  • Some jewelry to be displayed
  • The girls and I will be wearing traditional Ethiopian garb
  • Pictures of injera and other foods
  • Map of Africa with Ethiopia marked on it
  • Drum, baskets, "Desta" doll and other handcrafts
  • Berbere in a bowl (to smell- and taste- if you dare!)

So, what else can I do to make this fun and informative? And yes, it has to be something easily accessible! This will be a presentation to kids (young elementary) and their families, so the age-range will be wide. Any little games we can play? Help me out!

Almost 2 and writing a letter...

Anna will be 2 in a little over a week. I cannot believe that she has been home a full 6 months!

I have compiled a photo album for her birthmom and will be including a few pieces of artwork Anna has created as well as a letter from me (and one from Abigail) in the package I send.

I am kind of at a standstill in writing this letter; it is just so difficult to know what I should- or shouldn't- include. I mean, the photos speak for themselves. Anna is smiling, growing, well-loved. But if I was her birthmom, separated by thousands of miles and cultural differences, what would I want to know?

Sure, I would want to know that Anna is growing, and what she is doing developmentally. But what I would really want is to know if she is truly happy. How do I express that to a woman whose cultural differences may mean that happiness is much different than what I think it is?

And then there are the little things... do I call her "Anna" or "Misrak"? Do I mention that Anna will soon have a daddy? Do I talk about moving, and swimming lessons, and the scores of dogs that Anna chases after each times she sees them?

I don't know. I really want to reassure her birthmother's heart- a heart that is still so full of love for Anna. But how do I do that?

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Help Needed: Passport "Stamp"

This is a fun one!

I am hosting the "Ethiopia" booth at the elementary school's "International Fair." I will be displaying all sorts of stuff from Ethiopia, playing Ethiopian music, wearing the traditional garb I brought back with me, teaching a few Amharic words, etc. The kids get to go around to the different country booths and get their "passport" stamped as they learn about the different countries and cultures.

I need to have some sort of "stamp" to use in their passports. It could be a rubber/ink stamp or a sticker. It should be the shape of Ethiopia or something else that is representative of Ethiopia.

Any ideas?

(Also, feel free to share any ideas that will make my booth better!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thoughts on That List

There are times when I worry I have created a monster.

No, not my human children, but my Internet love child. That little list.

Even though I am no longer in the process, that list has a hold on me. I smile widely each time I get an email of a new family to be added to the paperchase or wait list page. I go nuts when the boards lite up with news of referrals... what day, how old, what gender, and who might have pictures of your little one for you? When I get confirmation that someone is moving from the referral/court process page to the forever family page, my heart jumps. I am so happy to be the recorder of these life-shaping events. On the one hand, I am so proud of that list because it has such potential to create and spread joy.

But on the other hand, it also has potential to create sorrows. I look at that list, study it daily, and sometimes question if I have done the right thing. When I see families waiting- when I send check-in emails to see if I missed the news of their referral... when they wait for months and months to see their child's face, I am so sad for them. I know that wait- that longing. I know that it will ease, but never completely disappear, even once they are holding their child in their arms. I know that they will carry that desire- that yearning- for every child who is waiting to come home to their forever family, and that yearning will stay with them.

The worst is the referral/court process page. Long waits for court dates. Failures to pass. Months of watching your child grow up- of missing them, of wanting them, of loving them while they know so little of you and have no idea how deeply they are loved. I cannot imagine that pain. And to look at that list and think about those families who are waiting on a mere slip of paper... to know that it is just some tree pulp and ink that is separating them from their child... there aren't words for that. To know that this list is spreading the news of that heartache does make me question if this list is the right thing to do.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey by being the scribe of the steps in your process. I am honored and humbled. And I hope and pray for each family on that list that your children will soon be in your arms.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

PP #2

Last Saturday we had our second post-placement visit. I cannot believe we have been home nearly 6 months! Anna is such a different child... and so much has changed.

The visit went well. I didn't clean nearly as much as I did last time, so that helped take the stress off a bit. On the other hand, my older daughter looked like someone had beat her up (full story here)... I wasn't quite sure what kind of impression that made!

(BTW- I am so glad her injury happened at school and is documented as happening at school! Totally relieves any concerns of "are you abusing your kid?")

For a little update, here is Anna's big developmental milestones:

Age: almost 23 months

Speaks these words: Momma, Daddy, John, Abi, Sissy, Anna, Lily, GaGa, PePaw, Teta, MiMi, yes, no, mine, uh-uh. uh-oh, out, off, on, up, down, more, milk, cup, eat, go, coat, cheese, shoes, poop, pee, potty, animal sounds (moo, baaa, tweet, etc), please, thank you, Jesus, night-night, sleep, doggie, kitty, Ty, stop it, yay!, funny. Her receptive language is phenomenal and she can understand everything (we may have to start spelling around her soon!)

Anna runs, jumps with both feet off the ground, climbs up stairs (would climb down, if I let her!), climbs up pretty much everything and is basically on the go all the time. She likes to throw things and can roll a ball back and forth. She can feed herself using a spoon/fork but is not yet ready to drink out of an open cup. She can scribble on paper and fingerpaint. She sleeps 10-11 hours at night and naps about 2 hours in the afternoon. She eats everything but loves carbs and cheese the best!

Anna understands relationships between objects and their shape/size (puzzles, hide-and-seek). She can point to all of her body parts. She has had a few successes on the potty- some where she "held it" until she was on the potty while others were just fortunate circumstances. She can follow 2 and 3 step commands (go into your room and get a pair of shoes.) She enjoys reading books, playing with water in the bathtub, and any/all physical activities. She understands rules and consequences and is responsive to time-outs. She is working on learning colors, shapes, letters, and manners.

Anna is well-liked in her preschool class, but she isn't as interested in the other kids as they are in her. She knows Momma, Daddy/John, Sissy/Abigail and understands that they are the special people in her life. She looks to them for her comfort and approval. She also has favorite teachers and does not cry anymore when she is dropped off/picked up at preschool. She is wary of strangers.

Anna has a strong personality. She is very happy-go-lucky most of the time and is easily redirected. However, she can be very strong-willed and will engage in battles of will. She is becoming very independent. She loves shoes more than almost anything else but also loves animals and will follow the cat all around the house. She admires and emulates her big sister. She laughs a lot and has a very infectious laugh. She has a great sense of humor and is developing some subtleties in her humor that are uncommon at her age. She is not scared of much, but the vacuum remains intimidating.

I love my girl!