"Sometimes I'd like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...but I'm afraid God might ask me the same question."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Two Years Post Adoption - What's it really like?

Wow.  Two years.  In so many ways, time has flow by.  In other ways, it seems like we have always had Grace in our lives.  She has been with us for just over two years.  It's funny to think of a time when she wasn't here.  It seems very natural that she is part of our family.  From time to time I forget that she looks different than we do (in fact, this week I had a woman tell me that she resembled me).  At other times, it is very obvious that our family was not made up in a totally traditional manner.  Having Grace start school  brought reminders that we are a family that has been blessed through adoption.  People notice differences.  People ask questions.

Celebrating two years home.  Grace drew pictures of "her" two flags.

So...the truth about adoption two years later...hmmm...I've sort of avoided writing this post, because I don't want to give the impression that our adoption was a breeze, but we have been very fortunate with Grace's adjustment.  

There are so many things to love about Grace. She is:
Friendly, Smart, Daring
Creative, Loving, Determined
Athletic, Kind, Beautiful
and, A little "spicy"

Grace's first trip to the ocean.  She was so excited!!!!

Grace's favorite things to do:
Gymnastics, dance, soccer, swing, ride her bike, draw, make "cards" for people, go to school
Grace's first season of soccer (I promise, her hair was not as crazy as it looks in this picture...)

There have been some tough times throughout the past two years. It's hard to write a blog about adoption/family life without sugar coating things.  I want to be transparent and "keep it real,"  but that's hard to do that when family, friends, and (possibly in the future) Grace will read the posts.  I would say that most of the tougher times relate to my relationship with Grace. It is different to parent a child that you meet as a little person, and not an infant. I don't have experience with this, so it challenges me from time to time.  Grace and I must be a lot alike, because we both seem to feel the same way about our relationship.  We have a lot of love for each other, but we also challenge each other and drive each other nuts at times.  I was lucky enough to attend one of the Created for Care retreats last spring.  One of the best parts of the conference (for me) was hearing this common theme from other adoptive parents.  It seemed like many of the conference sessions that I attended involved an adoptive mom admitting that her adoption/relationship with her child was somewhat challenging from time to time.  Many moms openly discussed how hard it was to bring a new child home.  It was refreshing to hear stories from other moms.  It also put my concerns into perspective and made me feel like I was not the only one.  It is just not something you read about on many adoption blogs.  Thanks to those of you who are being honest.

The second thing that continues to be an issue for us right now, is that Grace is more aware of being "different" than she was when she first came home.  She is the only "brown" kid in her class, and she is really noticing this more and more lately.  She wishes that her hair was as smooth and straight as her sister's.  She loves to tell me about it when she sees other kids that look like her (which can be a little strange if we are out in public and she isn't using a quiet voice).  I realize that it is my job as a parent to do my best to interact with other African American  people as much as I can...trouble is, we are not living in a diverse area.  I really didn't think this was going to be a challenge for Grace yet.  I was wrong to assume that we would have time before these issues surfaced.

Truthfully,  adoption = normal family stuff...
Our family is so darn normal, adoption doesn't really change that. 
Grace still struggles with normal stuff, like not wanting to hear the word "no", being told it's time for bed (although she is a total angel when it comes to sleep...no complaints), and trying to find something "fun" to do.  She also doesn't really love having her hair done or having a mom that prefers to pick out her clothes for her ;)  We also deal with the normal family stuff that comes with a family  of six.  Sometimes our kids argue.  Sometimes mom and dad yell.  Sometimes, we forget how lucky we are.
The kids convinced me to go to Golden Corral for dinner while we were on vacation (ugh...I tend to avoid buffet restaurants like the plague), and they were loving the chocolate fountain, dessert bar, and all you can eat cotton candy.

One of the best parts of adopting, is meeting new friends that have also grown their families through adoption.  There is just something about connecting with people through this experience.   It is also super important to stay connected with those friends, because they are some of the people that can really understand the ups and downs of having a child that was adopted.

Grace loves to spend time with other kids who have families that look like ours.

We are so blessed to have all of these wonderful adoption friends and families in our lives...

For us, adoption has also meant falling in love with another country.
What we didn't know, was that the love that we have for Ethiopia would not stop after the excitement of the adoption process was over.
Our love for Ethiopia has not faded since we boarded a plane to come home.  I can not wait until we are able to get on a plane and head right back to Addis Ababa.  In the meantime, it has been a joy to watch our kids fall in love with Ethiopia too.  Alyssa and I are in the middle of working on a great project that I will be sharing soon.  We cherish those who support Grace's homeland, and as a family, we will continue to serve the beautiful people of Ethiopia however we can.

So there you have it, time has definitely gone by quickly...just take a look...

Grace 2010

Grace 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Happy Ethiopian New Year!!!

Melkam Addis Amet!! 

Happy Ethiopian New Year!

Since we aren't lucky enough to celebrate the Ethiopian new year at an Ethiopian restaurant, or spend time with our favorite adoptive families and friends, we settled on Ethiopian flags and Africa cookies (my go to treat to celebrate all that is Africa/Ethiopian).  

Today also happened to be "orange day" in kindergarten.  They were all supposed to wear the color orange.  Imagine Grace's teacher's surprise when Grace handed her a beautifully wrapped Africa cookie (complete with a matching Ethiopian colored bow) and wished her "Happy New Year!" first thing this morning...she was a little puzzled, but Grace explained that it is now the year 2005 in Ethiopia!  I love explaining that little factoid to people :)
Well, at least Grace had a (somewhat) orangish shirt (that just so happened to have the continent of Africa on it) to wear to school today.  Perfect!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten!...and 10th Grade, and 7th Grade, and 4th Grade...

The big day has finally come!  
As I type this post, I am home alone...it is quiet...strange.
Grace has been waiting for this day for two years.  She is thrilled to be starting school and can't wait to learn, meet new friends, and stay at school all day.
This mom's heart worries bit because she is the only (as Grace put it) "girl with brown skin" in her class...broke my heart to hear that from her (more to come on that later).  I know she will hold her own and will do just fine. We were blessed to have Grace placed in a kindergarten class with an amazing teacher and friend of mine.  I know that this year will be filled with so many new experiences for Grace, and I can't wait to watch her flourish!

In addition to having a new kindergarten student, we have...
 A 4th Grader
 A 7th Grader (who is not impressed with the sign he was forced to hold)
 and a 10th Grader!

One of the few times that the kids stand next to each other for photos...

As I sit in my house all alone, I think I am at peace with the quiet.  I am pretty sure I will enjoy the lack of noise...or am I just trying to convince myself?  Five years ago I had the same self talk with myself...I had just brought my baby to kindergarten.  I never thought I would be a kindergarten mom again...
Little did I know that God had some other plans for us!
Thank God for allowing us to change our plans and to grow our family and hearts in such an incredible way. 
Who knows what this school year will bring, but for now, I am going to enjoy the start of an exciting chapter.
Happy First Day of School 2012-2013