The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

We woke up to a dusting...which soon disappeared thanks to the sun. Did I mention how sunny it is here? I still can't get over it. I hope I never take it for granted.

She was such a good sport.

Another first.

You didn't think I'd let a photo op go by, did you? Silly people.

People here go a little...uhhh...over the top?...get a bit excited?...are slightly enthusiastic?

Isn't the sky beautiful...a perfect backdrop to the giant spider across the door?!

Regardless, we had two of the world's best Superheroes here to protect the world's sweetest Sunflower.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday...In Short


...specialist test results are coming back. the week included few extra visits to local healthcare clinics and the like. nothing 'scary'...just precautionary.

...we are super pleased with levels of vit D and iron...levels uncommon for recently adopted african children...such a blessing! we are suspect of some of the reasons for such fantastic results - and are so pleased about choices we have made regarding her diet and supplements.

...some tests have come back positive and we're not surprised. all things/diagnoses we can (and are!) dealing with simply. and, some things just take time.

...after our experience, i don't feel a specialist should be optional when bringing our children home...especially from developing countries. they are savvy beyond what our GPs would think to look and test for. (if you're looking for a recommendation i've got one to give!)

...tomorrow. halloween. last year was their first - initiation, we'll say. this you well know, we now live in suburbia. we love it. and one round of our block should about fill treat bags. please don't take this as any indication of our giving way to sugar or other refined-like stuff. we are always elated to learn that when our 6 year old comes home from hot dog day he has chosen mustard over ketchup and put the sucker in his backpack that someone in class handed out. but when you live in an area such as ours, it's important your kids don't feel 'ostrasized' from (by) their peers. for them, it's about the dressing up and playing around and letting them be kids. and a treat here or there will be the added bonus.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We Moved. Boy, Did We Move.

Let me preface this by saying I think we can often feel change coming. Like the ominous clouds that precede the BC rains, we just know. It can begin with a gentle tap on the heart which, if ignored or unnoticed will morph into a scratch and then more of a pound until it is impossible to ignore. Perhaps one of us is discontent, then the other. It climaxes when both feel a stirring simultaneously. It's not a fluke or a haphazard realization.

It's time.

For us, it started about three and a half years ago. Not that we felt anything then. Not even an whisper. We felt the calling, the desire, the urge, the need to adopt. From far away. That was it.

And along the journey we changed. We were changed. We have been changed. And yes, we will continue changing.

With a heart for where we were, we felt there was something more...different. What we had seen was raw and real and our passion was being drawn somewhere different, somewhere new, somewhere unknown to us...but through this unknowing and unknown, we felt content. Together. Affirmed. Confident.

And so, four days before we were to fly to Ethiopia we flew a province east. For a whopping twelve hours. (It was all we the middle of an intense week...the first week of camp.) And, at the end of that same week, the night before we left for our court trip to meet our daughter for the first time, we came to the decision that this is what would be.

Our life as a family was about to change drastically in more ways than any of us could have imagined.

Less than two months later, the summer barely behind us we packed up our house (having already purchased another one sight unseen, registered the boys in school and soccer, and all the while trying to figure out whether we were coming or going) in the middle of our Visa wait.

Timing was everything.

We had spoken with our agency to find out what would in fact happen, should we move inter-provincially while not having completed our adoption. I mean, she was legally ours but not yet home. And if we've learned anything through this journey it's this: it's not over until it's over. And it wasn't over. Makeda wasn't in our arms.

We found out that while working outside the province was fine, should we no longer be residents of the province in which we were approved to adopt we would have to register with a new (provincial) agency to update everything. Oi Vey. Money doesn't grow on trees, time wasn't on our side, and we had no desire to redo our homestudy all for the sake of a couple weeks' timing.

Wanting to do nothing that wasn't above reproach or integral, we kept our house (yeah...we owned two for awhile), and everything else that would ensure our residency requirement was met. We anticipated being in our new home, city, province for many weeks before receiving our Visa call.


On September 12th, we arrived in our new city. (City! Keep in mind we're from a town, population 2500.) And, had it not been an Ethiopian holiday we would have found out that same day that our visa was in. As we all know, two days later that call (actually email) came. Wow.

Talk about a blitz. I've never unpacked so much in one go. I've never burned the midnight oil, tried to figure out my head from my tail and maintained some sort of sanity all at the same time. A fantastic friend made sure Makeda's room was painted (two coats!) all in one day. She made food for her (I may have sat and watched a lot of's all a blur), so that once we were home there wouldn't be (as) much to worry about. Family helped out in countless ways.

Six days after arriving in Alberta, four days after receiving word of the Visa, and a day before Ben started his new job (the reason for the move!) I left for Ethiopia.

So where are we feeling fulfillment now? Here.

And each day I hear new stories of Relief taking place and I swell with joy. And I ache with passion - passion for a job I don't even do! But to be a part of this new family, with a child who comes from a country in which they serve brings immense joy.

And when we tell people we just moved from BC they look at us like we have two heads and three eyes.

Why?! They exclaim, as though we've just been hit by the stupid train.

And we explain.

But it's just wait, they say.

Yes, we've heard, we often reply. And then we look up. And the skies are blue. They are clear blue and the sun shines every day!

And more to the point: This is where we are meant to be.

And as the pictures continue to be hung (those are always the last aren't they?!), this house is starting to feel like a home.

And, while we miss friends and parts of life in BC we are making new ones. When the "polite" chat is colloquial that will be nice. And I don't think it will take all that long...people are so very friendly here. They are approachable and helpful and wow. And things are becoming familiar. And comfortable. And the streets are beginning to make sense.

We've been welcomed with open (!) arms and for that we are so very grateful.

This is home now.

Celebrating 11 Months

She's eleven months today.

Hitting the 3rd percentile for length, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15 - 50th percentile for weight, and the 97th percentile when it comes to head circumference.

Well, when you boast a length (or lack thereof) and a head circumference as above, you must most certainly be a Keizer.

To celebrate, a day early, we headed to Children's Hospital for a full specialist work up. (I truly hope, after all this time, you are picking up just some of that sarcasm.) All is well. For all intensive purposes our wee babe is as healthy as can be. A couple of tests will likely give way to some anticipated diagnoses and we'll quickly work to fix (rid!) those. I am so glad we have taken the extra time to see not only a GP but a Specialist. One who is intrigued, researched and more aware of all those "little" details...ailments...potentially hidden, when bringing a child home from her developing country.

Included in our visit today was blood work. Lots. Of. Blood. Work.

Seven wee vials, to be precise.

And not a tear. Thumb in her mouth, she turned to watch as the technician gently poked to find a vein with her fingers and then followed with the needle. "It's slightly smaller than a hair," the technician told me, when describing the size (diameter) of the vein.


The vein clotted after five vials and they gently manoeuvred the needle around in her arm. They got another vial. Not quite enough of the red stuff. They removed the needle, we turned her around and they worked on the other arm. ("This vein is a little smaller than the other" she said. How is that even possible, I wondered.) She fussed this time. In her defence they were pricking the arm which held, at the end of it, the hand with the thumb...The. Thumb. Her self-soothing device was unreachable.

I would have fussed too.

And then it was done. Just like that.

Home a month yesterday, today she's 11 months.

Each day we love her more than the last. Each day we don't think it's possible to love her more than in that moment.

And yet, we always find a reason...without even trying.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

About The Babe

As we continue to find our rhythm, in so many ways and areas of our life as five, I am continually struck by the leaps and bounds we observe...and I'm just as certain there are as many we aren't noticing.

Makeda continues to grow - those little fingers, thighs, that tush...they're all boasting sweet rolls. The one-size (fits all) cloth diapers will soon need expansion. Only three weeks ago wearing 3-6 month clothing consistently, she now boasts 6-9 month sizing. I'm ecstatic and sad at the same time. My baby. Our baby. She's growing - and while I realize she's still physically slightly behind where (by North American standards) she should be, she seems big(ger) to me.

She's healthier.

I can see this.

Her hair is coming in. The bald patches diminish, the hair thickens everywhere.

Her cheeks. They are round!

Her smile - it's now found it's deep belly chuckle when tickled in just that right spot. Or, should I say spots? Oh, the girl is ticklish.

And she mimics. Oh, can she ever shadow what we are doing.

What this tells me is her language acquisition and vocabulary are growing in leaps and bounds.

She continues to eat like a grown man. (We'll be surprised if Monday's visit to the specialist doesn't confirm our suspicion of parasites.) And she'll eat anything. "Real" people food. Suppers pureed are thoroughly enjoyed...tuna casserole, scalloped potatoes, guacamole. She loves it all.

But keep eggs the heck away.

Unless you'd like to experience a scream which I am sure only most dogs can hear, don't waste your time, energy, or money on givin' the girl eggs. For the love, don't do it.

Since coming home we've started her on a regime of DHA and pro-biotics to which we attribute some of her (noticeable/unnoticeable) development.

And the poop...well, it's getting better. And the days it's great, I rejoice and smile as the cloth diapering is even more enjoyable on those days. But regardless, I love it. Love it. (The diapers...not so much the poop.)

Her twelve hour nightly stints continue also. She'll wake about one night a week for a bottle but otherwise we all sleep through. Mercifully. Her naps also continue at around two and a half hours.

We attribute a lot of our successful sleeping patterns to Babywise. We read and practiced many of the teachings in this book with our boys and while we've been exceedingly cautious to prioritize bonding and attachment over some of the methods suggested in this book, there are many exercises we have embraced. Written by a Pastor, endorsed MD it also embraces the habits and health of the family we strive to be.

{friends at last!}

She continues to skootch forward on her tummy when motivation (ah hem, the iPad/iPod) presents itself.

The boys continue their lives, their days, playing, schooling, and routines, as if she's always been here. The adjustment for them...from two to three...there's no possible way it could have gone any more smoothly. They love her. Adore her. Call her sweet baby. Snot face. (It's endearing, really.) I hear sweet girl and cutie pie too. These, coming especially from the mouth of a four year old, are to be bottled up and stored.

There is nothing more genuine.

And, Il pause some days.

In the midst of a chore, preparing a meal, rubbing teeny curls moisturizer into coarse ringlets, awaiting a diaper being brought from upstairs as I didn't realize I had run out, as I look in my rear view mirror at the reflection staring back.

And I wonder how it could ever possibly get any better than this.

It doesn't.

I'm certain.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


We love her.

More than we ever imagined possible.

Even when she smushes her lips up against our cheeks.

And, proceeds to suck on our cheeks.

And then she licks our cheeks.

Yes, even then...we love her more then.

It's pretty slobbery.

And wet.

And it is wonderful.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On A Lighter Note: Leftovers

It's been a little heavy lately so I thought I'd share something on a lighter note...

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Had you asked me a year ago if we would be here, as five, in the specific company which we found ourselves, I would have shaken my head in denial.

But here we are. (More on that very soon.)

We had our BBQ-ed turkey, our Stove Top stuffing (apparently it's better than anything homemade?! um, okay), our organic gravy (seems a little oxymoronic in proximity to the Stove Top doesn't it?), our roasted potatoes and the veg.

What?! Back the truck up...BBQ-ed turkey? Yes!!! Don't diss it 'till you've tried it.

Okay, now that I've relived my high school vocabulary, let me detail this out. Since I was a teen and our friends shared their "super moist, no fail BBQ turkey" recipe with my Dad, it's the only way we've done ours. Never a dry piece of meat.


On a turkey.

Plus, the oven is free for the whatever form you like to bake or roast it.

Lovely, isn't it?!

BBQ-ing your turkey takes about a bazillion times less than baking it in the oven, too. So, bonus: you don't spend your day trapped in the house...or the kitchen for that matter. Ours was about 20 lbs (yeah, apparently I over-estimated by a landslide on that one). It needed only three hours...and seeing as our BBQ is a little temper-mental, the temp ranged from 375 - 650.

It's super simple, with the only drawn back being that you cannot bake your stuffing in it...this was also not a problem for us seeing as apparently we...that right: we like our Stove Top.

I digress.

Grab a roasting pan, throw a cooling rack or roasting rack in it. Chuck the turkey on top (this could be hard if it's the size of ours but you get the picture). Pour a thin layer of water in the base of the roasting pan. Baste it with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. Throw it on the BBQ and all you need to do from here on out is check it every once in awhile to ensure there is still water in the bottom of the roasting pan - this ensures the moist bird...seriously - even the white meat! Baste the bird and season every fifteen minutes or so, for the last hour. Like I said, ours was about 20lbs and it was a very reasonable 3 hours.

Okay, onto the leftovers. Around here leftover turkey sandwiches (including said Stove Top and gravy as well as that oh so loved cranberry sauce) are a hit the following day.

After that, no one in this neck of the woods wants nothing to do with the bird until the following turkey meal holiday.

This does not bode well for all that leftover meat.

And, seeing as I'm not one to be wasteful, it seems I have to get creative.

I've finally come to the conclusion that turkey soup just ain't gonna happen. I can make it but no one will eat it. And doesn't that just seems like a waste of freezer space to you?

I usually squeeze out one other supper meal before I can tell people are going to go on strike around here. My go-to has, in the past been Rachael Ray's recipe. But we're not big pasta folk so last night I tried something a little out of the ordinary but it went over particularly well...or at least people were really polite. I'm going to go with the former. Kids aren't really that polite when they don't like something, let's be honest here.

I found this Turkey Quesadilla recipe and while it took a little longer than I would have liked, it was more than enough for two meals so we'll be seein' this dish again.

I didn't have the all peppers or onions mentioned so I chopped up a red pepper and several stalks of broccoli. (I told you I don't like to waste.) I also cut out the chipotle and ancho chillis simply because they don't adorn my pantry spice shelf. I didn't slide the tortillas through hot oil before placing the meat concoction in them because that simply seemed like a waste of oil and calories to me. They worked fine. I'd say make sure your sauce doesn't reduce too much...that would be my mistake. Yeah, that's right...I'm a Mama and therefore imperfect.

I also used less cheese at the end than is called for. Because, though this family could live on cheese alone it just seemed a bit much. I substituted a bit of fresh parmesan to give them a little extra kick...

Turkey Cream Cheese Enchiladas...
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 5 cups shredded cooked turkey
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
  • 22 (6 inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided


  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 9x12 inch baking pans.
  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and chopped green, yellow, and orange bell peppers; cook and stir until the peppers have softened and onion has turned translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the kosher salt, black pepper, chipotle pepper, ancho pepper, cumin, and paprika. Cook and stir until seasonings start to become fragrant, about 5 more minutes.
  3. Pour in the sour cream and heavy cream, and add the cream cheese. Stir well to combine, and cook over low heat until mixture is heated through and creamy, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow mixture to cool about 10 to 15 minutes. Divide mixture, and reserve half for topping.
  4. Combine shredded turkey with 2 1/2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Add in half of the cooled cream and pepper mixture, and stir lightly to mix. Set aside.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Slide one tortilla at a time into the oil and allow to heat through, about 20 to 30 seconds, until the tortilla is hot and pliable. Stack the warmed tortillas and cover to retain heat.
  6. To assemble the enchiladas, place 1/4 cup of creamy turkey filling in a line down the center of each tortilla, roll the tortillas, and lay 11 enchiladas, seam sides down, into each prepared baking dish. Top each dish with half of the reserved cream and pepper mixture. Bake the pans in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until enchiladas are heated through and sauce begins to brown and bubble.
  7. Remove the pans from the oven, sprinkle each with about 3/4 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese, and return to the oven to finish baking, about 15 more minutes, until topping is melted, browned, and bubbling. Let stand about 10 minutes to rest before serving.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saying Good-Bye

...The little girl gave Makeda a hug, a rub on the leg in sorrowful silence and left. (I believe she kissed her softly and turned quickly to leave...but the moments after this one are the most bittersweet I have ever experienced - and hope never to have to my entire life.)

As this little four year old orphan - soon to be no longer - left the common room, a nannie came entered. She was the one I'd always seen doing Makeda's hair, feeding her, loving on her. She has two small children at home but works six (or is it seven? I think it's seven) days a week in the infant room. Where her small (not-yet-school-age) children are during the day, I'm not certain. We tried to ask but the language barrier won out. I would hedge a bet that she'd taken Makeda under her wing from the get go, adopted her, and now she would say good-bye. Likely for the rest of her life.

What happened over the next few minutes is all a bit of a blur, both mentally and through the tears. I will purposely leave out details because they are a part of Makeda's story. And after what's to follow or your own understanding - this is all she has. Her story, our responsibility to pass on. The one thing she has to her name and from her origin. These details are intricately woven into our story of becoming family. It's not okay for others to share them with her, but rather the opposite.

I've not ached like that in years - perhaps never.

It was so raw, too real. It still is. In every life changing, perspective altering way.

And, it's nothing short of tragic.

And, for the most nano-of-a-second, I wished it all away. I wanted to reverse this experience, this desire to adopt, this now legally binding removal of a child from her second family, her birth country, her heritage, her culture, her home.

Her home.

I felt, in that split second, as though I was kidnapping her - robbing from her, the few things by which she was surrounded, that make her: Her.

I was intentionally - had spent years in fact - seeking with all my energy to take it all from her. I had been told. We had been taught. There will be loss. There will be unspoken sadness. But, not unlike many other events and occurrences, we don't fully grasp the severity of a situation until we live through it. And here I found myself: living in it.

It didn't seem fair.

It's not fair.

None of this whole journey is fair or right or just or okay.

And yet, it's how it is. And it's the path chosen for us. And she's ours. And while all those emotions still sit near the surface, I know also that this is good. It's right. It's faith followed. It's a God-directed, faith-based reaction to an intensely flawed system and the reality of poverty, which has determined new paths and lives for thousands of it's own.

There it is.

No one wins.

When a system is devastated, when a most incredible, beautiful country is devastated to this extreme, while there are thousands in it, doing all they can to save work for the vulnerable and is so very much bigger than any of them.

And the truth is, there is no saving it.

Until the rich realize there needs to be no boundaries, no great divide, there will continue to be the haves and the have nots.

That statement makes me sick - there is nothing okay, ethical, integral, just or moral about it.

I could get on my soapbox but I don't think it would be anything new that I would have to share.

I digress.

In the moment of wanting to reverse our past three and a half years; In the lapse of time between holding Makeda; Between touching her sweet four year old friend and thanking her for her love on our daughter; When the nannie walked in to whisper to her what only she and Makeda will ever know; Between all tragedy which followed over the next moments, the world stopped.

As E sat there with Makeda on her lap this nannie rubbed Makeda, she caressed her hair, held her legs and feet, all the while whispering, talking, sobbing, mourning. "Ciao" she kept repeating. I am certain she was encouraging her, telling her to be strong, to never forget where she came from, to return to her home when she's older, to grow up and be amazing and successful and proud. I am sure of it. Though I could understand none of it.

Another nannie came in, after the first left in an absolute state of sorrow. And the moment repeated itself with, I'm certain similar advice, love, sorrow. It was slightly different this time: the nannie couldn't physically remove herself from the presence of this wee being. She couldn't let Makeda out of her sight and would call for others to come and say good-bye, but she wouldn't leave the room.

I felt like the most horrible person in the entire world.

How did this miraculous, faith-filled journey come to such a screeching halt?!

How did this sense of grace, love, excitement and anticipation of family being formed so abruptly feel like hell?!

And it did.

And in that moment I knew as certain as I sit here today that adoption is not the very best option.

It's better than mere survival. It supersedes malnutrition and disease and famine and most certainly death by any of the aforementioned.

But it is not in the very best interest of the child.

Her birth home, her birth family, those are in the best interest of the child.

So do I think we made the wrong decision?

I don't.

In Makeda's case we are, all said and done, in her second best interest. Her first best interest is an impossibility due simply to the circumstances and country into which was was born. She is an orphan taken to an orphanage, and who, had she not been referred to us, would have gone to another (likely) Caucasian Canadian family.

We just happen to have been blessed with the most amazing orphanage, directed by the most amazing woman, who mercifully was/is/continues to be connected to Canadian families.

And when I say "happen[s] to be", I don't mean by chance.

None of this happened by chance.

And I would never change any of it. Not for the world.

Except if I could eradicate poverty, I would do that.

I would eradicate poverty and orphans and death and disease and famine and good-byes.

Because Makeda never should have had to say good-bye.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It Wasn't "See You Later" ... It Was "Good-Bye"

I hesitate writing about this now. Maybe it's too soon. I don't think it's too personal - in fact, it gives real meaning to this entire experience. It sheds new light. Perhaps it will cause some of us to search deeper and reach down and grasp greater understanding of this process.

I hesitate to share because it's long. Perhaps a double post-er. (Have I ever even done that before? That would be your cue to grab your cup of coffee now...even if this is the first instalment of two, it's likely not a Cole's Notes day.)

I hesitate to share because it's still fresh and raw. Not nearly as bad as week ago, or the night it happened but fresh enough that if I allow myself to go back and relive it for more than thirty seconds, I succumb to the sorrow, ache, tears, raw reality of the situation in which we found ourselves two weeks ago today.

I know it's losing some of the raw"ness" because it now takes thirty seconds for the tears to fall...this time last week it took a split second...if that.

Two weeks ago today: the day Makeda was taken from her second home.

Two weeks ago: the day she unknowingly said goodbye to the "mothers" who had cared for her to the best of their ability - as they would their own flesh and blood - for the past many months. I don't know when precisely Makeda was removed from her intake orphanage in Harar to her most recent home - Abenezer Orphanage - in Addis. My best guess would be March-ish. I base this on hours of conversation and therefore greater understanding of the paper-chase/orphanage move process.

In order to be moved from Abenezer Harar to Abenezer Addis, she would have been driven ten hours by van. It wouldn't have been a quick, easy trip but rather, done out of necessity. (The flight would have simply been out of the question due to cost.) Her birth mother would have followed several months the same van, along the same dirt roads, when going up for court. As if relinquishing her wasn't enough, Makeda's Birth Mother then had to revisit her decision in front of a judge. I cannot even fathom. I truly don't believe we do anything that compares to this.

The orphanage has a room designated for Birth Mothers who come up for court and spend the night. (My guess is, based on the length of the trip, this would be the majority who have relinquished their children.) This means, she would have had the opportunity to visit Makeda, ensure she maintained this irrevocable decision, and then left her one final time.

We suffer, sure. But we don't suffer.


What is comparable to consciously making the decision of changing one's own lineage in hopes of offering up more? I have given this much thought and I can't think of a thing.

I digress.

Thursday, September 22, 2011.

This was not our Gotcha Day. It was our intended GD, but because Wednesday had been so smooth - seemingly seamless in my mind - I had taken her on Wednesday. We were invited to return Thursday, after having spent the entire (!) afternoon with E on Wednesday - between the arrival at the orphanage, the two hour visit with Makeda, the donations run, and supper, we had spent nearly all morning, noon, and night in the presence of saints. I'm sure of it. Uncertain of the reason behind the request to return but of course having nothing else on the go, we agreed to return the following morning.

Thurday, we were picked up at 10am. We spent a couple of hours at the orphanage. Upon our arrival the children sang to us - in english and amharic. We walked around a little more, enjoyed lunch and another traditional coffee ceremony - all surreal now, and yet moments I would nearly sell my soul to relive - all during which Makeda was with her nursery peers, friends, and nannies.

We were then introduced to the little girl who took Makeda under her wing - mothered her, "Makeda is her favourite" is what we were told. She is four years old. She too, will be going to a family, along with her sister. She too, has a story of tragedy. She is beautiful. Her story makes her moreso. Her strength to survive, even more than that. She sat quietly with us and listened as we spoke a language she barely (if at all) understood - but that she will soon learn fluently. I tried to look into the depth of her being, through her eyes. They were wise. They were old - not those belonging to a four year old. They had seen much, experienced more. And in the moment of fully grasping this the only thing I could think was, "how unfair". Her deep brown eyes held mystery, perhaps uncertainty...they were beautiful. There was a sense of loss I gleaned, as I sat and she stood in front of me. This may seem obvious but it was more striking than words could do justice. Her silence spoke volumes and if I could have asked her a million questions I would have - in a heartbeat. We learned a bit of her story from E...and there it stays. It's hers. It's all she has. That and her sister.

As she stood there, Makeda was brought into the common room and there were now five of us together.

The little girl gave Makeda a hug, a rub on the leg in sorrowful silence and left.

...And I am truly sorry but I have to leave it there. I will pick it up very soon. It's so very raw - more than words would do justice - and too real so I will pick up again tomorrow...

Monday, October 3, 2011

In A Week

It's phenomenal and fantastic to experience all the changes and "firsts" in Makeda's life. Though we missed the first 10 months (less a day), I feel like daily, we catch new little miracles taking place. There have been so many little firsts - easy to go unnoticed by most - we are witnessing each day. We're aware, taking note...not letting a day go by without giving thanks for the one for whom we prayed, waited, ached, and now celebrate.

Each nap, bedtime, morning as (t)he(y) leave for school the boy(s) are certain to hug, kiss, and talk to their sister. She's not ever taken for granted.

There's no jealousy around here. Nothing but doting, care, and attention passed her way.

Well, that's not entirely true: there is a bit of jealousy. We've come to the conclusion that in order to make all things fair, I must write the name of whose turn it is to sit next to Miss Makeda each day at meal times.

No kidding. Each day.

I tell ya, nothing but love.

When I picked Makeda up in Ethiopia her arms were average size and strength, but her legs were very small and weak. When I would pick her up, they would curl under her like those of a newborn...and at only a week and two days home, we are now over-joyed as we watch her...

The girl continues to be a water baby. Woken a wee bit early this morning by, ah hem, her two biggest fans, Makeda was certainly fussy. She spent the better part of her morning in a bath and was as happy as can be the.entire.time. Water in her face, her eyes - she didn't care. She just wanted to splash and giggle.

She's now conquered her dislike of plain yogurt and will (tolerate? and) enjoy it in small doses. She's a new (and big!) fan of guacamole and will eat it quite happily in combo with yogurt and applesauce.

I wondered, as I spooned small amounts into her gummy smile, whether she loved the spice it had to it because the flavours were (subconsciously) familiar and perhaps a reminder of that which she would have tasted in the womb. I wonder. With sadness, I wish I knew. Will she love spice because it's something to which she would have become accustom during those nine months? Or, is it simply something she, as a little person loves and tolerates more than her brothers? These are questions which, I'm certain won't touch the iceberg of questions we will have (and which will go unanswered for awhile anyway) over the course of the next many years. Tragic, isn't it?

For our joy, so much suffering.

For our Beautiful, such great Mercy.

We are pleased to announce that on her seventh night home, Makeda slept through the night (a solid twelve hours) and has since continued to do so. Lovely. Sleep in abundance is simply lovely.

Makeda, in abundance is simply lovely.