Posts tagged Ethiopian Adoption

Then and Now

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We spent a remarkable weekend with T’s “first friends.” Unprompted by me, he calls them his brothers and sisters. The first picture is of the kids when they were still living in a care center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The second one is of the same kids now (in almost the same order- wrangling challenges). I don’t even have words for the juxtaposition of these photos. Just look at these sweet, bright stars. The weekend was hilarious and touching and hard and big and real. I miss the other families already.

I had no idea what Tariku’s adoption would bring into our lives. It’s hard to remember, when sunk in the daily minutiae of mopping an inch bathwater off the floor or arm wrestling for the iPad or trying to teach subtraction. He has truly razed so many walls in my heart. Scott and I just wanted a baby. We weren’t looking explode our world. A bright light turned on all at once and we now have a network of strong and inspiring extended family. Our awareness has expanded and issues like race, belonging, family, trauma, and healing have moved to the forefront of our thoughts and our discussions. We are more compassionate. Above all, we know waaaaay more about airplanes than we ever could have dreamed.

I always knew he was a miracle, I just didn’t grasp the scope of it.

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My Tedx Talk!

Here is the talk I gave at Chapman University, about adoption and the role of imagination in forming our identities. Hope you enjoy it! Please pass it along if you do.

Cruising Together

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We are all a little bit dazed today, having just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas. A cruise may not seem like a likely choice of a vacation for us, but this was a rock cruise- a Weezer cruise to be specific. A boat full of bands and music fans, the climax of which was an epic afternoon show in a secluded cove on an island beach.

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I honestly had no idea what to expect. Julie the cruise director subtly organizing love matches during shuffleboard tournaments on the Lido deck? Trying to navigate our five year old through a gauntlet of smoky casinos and boozy spring breakers?

What I discovered is that our week on the cruise wasn’t about pina coladas in the hot tub (though there certainly were a few) or the basking by the pool (it was surprisingly blustery and cold), but rather about family.

My experience of family has always been a shifting thing, kind of like our time on the boat. Sometimes the wind kicked up and the water roiled navy and white as the deck under me listed from side to side so noticeably that I had to lie down and hold onto my head. Sometimes the ocean was kind and ridiculously turquoise, giving no indication of the whole alien world churning beneath its surface.

Our life is rich with extended family, including the Weezer fam. I confess that I have always secretly enjoyed all the annoying minutiae of traveling as a band. I rarely get impatient when being herded through airports, into buses, into arenas, onto gangplanks. I love being in the midst of the whole motley crew of us: the wives, the come-and-go girlfriends, the kids, the babysitters, the parents, the cranky tour manager (sorry, Stu). Once on board, the always thoughtful and creative fans showered us with cards and tiaras and patches and posters, much of it made with their own hands. As a kid running around the house belting out “Join the Circus” from the musical Barnum, this is what I always hoped my life was going to be. A strange dream, maybe, but I was right- it’s pretty wonderful.

Later that afternoon, we met up with yet more of our “relations” for a reunion that makes me tear up every time I think of it. We have remained close with all of the eight families with whom we traveled to Ethiopia on our adoption trip, but T rarely sees the kids because we all live in different parts of the country. To our delight, a couple of them decided to come sail with us.

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I am wary of superimposing my own fantasies of some mystical aspect to their friendship, but objectively, it was pure magic. The kids were beyond thrilled to see each other and kept shouting the things they had in common to literally every passerby who would listen (We were all born in Ethiopia! We all have brown skin! We all have pink parents!). I know that they felt the commonalities extended beyond the obvious, but they didn’t have words for it yet. I’m not sure I do either.

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I can only say that there is a deep connection between these kids, and between us, their parents. It is very relaxing for Scott and me to be around the people with whom we shared the most meaningful time in our life. There is so much that is just recognized and understood and doesn’t need to be explained.

My heart is full every time I think of the unbridled joy on their little faces as they ran around the ship deck, upending everyone’s Mai Tais and commandeering the hot tub.

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As the boat rocked me to sleep each night, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this life of ours, so abundant with music and family.

Thanks to everyone who made the cruise so special.

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For Everything a Season…Even in L.A.

Until now, I’ve been one of those grouchy East Coasters guilty of bemoaning the lack of seasons in Los Angeles. But it’s not true. One only needs to hunt for the perfect back-to-school lunchbox to feel the curtain closing on summer. Yet again, my child awakens me to the subtleties of the world around me. To the sweetness of the last figs off the tree, the delicious exhaustion of late beach afternoons, the sadness of the shortening days.

Yesterday, T started planning for our Christmas tree. He wants a big one this year. No, a big one. No, I mean a BIG one. I explained that we had to make it through fall first.

And in the grand tradition of fall….say a little prayer because we’re trying a new school. I don’t want to say too much about it until we have a toehold, but I’m hopeful that this one is going to work out. I’ve been hopeful before and I’ve been dead wrong, but I’ll persist in being hopeful because T is changing so much every day. He’s able to understand now why his friends are in school and he’s not. He’s working hard on his emotional regulation and his impulse control because he badly wants to be around other kids his age. We start next week. I’ll have the updates from the trenches.

Also- holy shit….baseball season. I’m a mom in the bleachers at baseball practice. Do you ever have moments when it washes over you? This isn’t a dollhouse you’re living in; this isn’t a script you’re writing; this isn’t a game- you are someone’s MOTHER. Baseball practice does that to me. Suck it up and make some snacks, cause you’re deep in it now, mom.

And how did I, who only ever attended pep-rallies for the sake of irony, wind up with the kid with the most team spirit ever? He smiles when he runs laps. He cheers when his teammates hit the ball. He cheers when they strike out. He cheers when they’re warming up. He cheers when they catch the ball. He cheers when they drop it. He makes me proud with that enormous heart of his. Every minute of every day.

Highlights from MOTHER TONGUE

Here are some highlights from the recent NY performance of my solo show, MOTHER TONGUE. For those of you who haven’t heard me go on about it ad nauseam already, the show is a multi-character, autobiographical piece revolving around the themes of adoption, blood, tribe and identity. It follows my circuitous journey to get pregnant and, when that proves unsuccessful, to adopt T in Ethiopia.

Hang in until the end for some awesome pics of T. That’s one way to get your kids to be enthusiastic about your creative endeavors- include giant projected pictures of them.

Hope you enjoy.

T-Bone is Four Today!

Today is T’s actual birthday, but we celebrated on Sunday. Last year, I fought for our right to party. This year, I just called his two besties three days in advance and had them meet us at Descanso Gardens. We chowed Babycakes gluten-free brownie cake (best. ever.) and then let the boys ride the train until they almost threw up.

That was it, folks. And it was such a great, sun-dappled, mellow day.

I could say all that stuff- I can’t believe how big he is. He’s growing up so fast. Blah blah. And it’s all true. But mostly, his birthday stuns me because I look at him and think how much he survived to get here. I marvel at the resilience of his joyful heart. It’s the honor of my life to witness the miracle that is him in this world.

Where Do I Come From?

The question is sticky for any parent, but for an adoptive parent there are about twelve extra steps to the answer. And when you’re dealing with a history that’s painful and traumatic, it can be particularly worrisome ground on which to tread.

I had no idea how hard it would be to break down complicated concepts in developmentally appropriate ways. And I’m not just talking about baby-making kind of questions. The other day T asked me with the “X” on the church was. Whoa. How do you even begin? Not to mention the “how do airplanes work” kind of questions, which would be easier to explain if I knew the answer in the first place.

In terms of the adoption-related subjects, I don’t have a master plan. I just feel it out as we go and try to stay a step ahead of the questions. So far, T knows that he was adopted from Africa, but he doesn’t quite understand that he grew in someone else’s belly. He recently kind of got that babies grow in bellies (and enjoys going up to all big ladies at the park and asking if there’s a “baby in there”), so I think it’s time to talk about it.

This is particularly delicate because of the challenges I’ve faced with T in the past year and the fact that I feel like he and I have recently turned a corner. I don’t know why the change happened, but he’s rejecting me much less than he was. He still prefers Daddy, but at least he’s not punching me in the face every time we get close and snuggly. In fact, we’re really connecting. You can’t imagine the relief, the joy.

And now I get to re-introduce the source of the trauma by expanding on T’s narrative with him. So I’m worried about regression and about losing the progress we’ve made. But Scott and I have spent some time talking about it with our trusted “board of directors” (ie our closest adoptive parent buddies) and have decided that as soon as the traveling of this month is over, we’re going to start reading T’s lifebook with him and showing him the video we have of him from the care center in Ethiopia.

As both an adoptee and an adoptive mom, I have many feelings that come up around this stuff. I feel honored to be entrusted with his story. I feel a tremendous responsibility to share it with him in a way that’s both deeply honest and developmentally appropriate. And I feel the tentacles of my own trauma history try to wrap themselves around this process and shut me down emotionally. But I’m fighting to be present and to look at it all for what it truly is- both T’s grief and mine, both his loss and mine. And to be grateful for the amazing opportunity to be here for the healing. For all of us.

Bloggy Playdate

Sunday we had a playdate with my blog-friend-turned-real-life-friend Kristen and her amazing brood.

The only danger of hanging out with Kristen is that I immediately want three more children. She and Mark are so graceful about the whole thing that it looks like a completely reasonable option. In reality, I got cold feet about a year and a half ago about our second adoption process and it’s been in limbo ever since. I actually touched base with the agency yesterday and asked them to keep our paperwork on hold for another six months.

I just don’t know, folks. I feel so inadequate most of the time, especially when faced with Tariku’s challenges and needs. I feel like I need to get a better handle on this mothering thing before I add another little being to the equation. But is that completely delusional? Will I ever feel like I have a handle on it? For now I’m checking the undecided box and just crashing the party of Kristen’s big family once in a while.

It’s definitely challenging and overwhelming for Tariku to be around more than one friend at a time. In all, I think he did beautifully. I really saw him trying to figure out how to participate and be kind.

The nice thing about hanging out with some of the other adoptive families I know is that there’s so much less explaining and apologizing to do. They get it. They get that my kid didn’t have parents for a while at a crucial time in his development. It has repercussions We’re working it out. We’re healing. We’re doing great, actually. But our version of doing great looks different that it does for kids who have had a typical attachment cycle in the first three years of life.

I’ve learned so much about all of this- attachment, adoption, parenting, faith, love, community- from my blogger friends. They’ve made me feel less alone on many desperately sad and scared nights. I’m not someone who generally goes to blogging conferences (yet), so it’s a special treat for me to hang out in the flesh with one of my fave blogging moms. One of my fave moms period.

Sometimes I question what I write on this blog. Does anyone really care about my kid’s day out at the beach? Am I engaged in a navel-gazing waste of time when I should be working on an article or another book? And then I remember why I do everything I do- books, plays, blogs, whatever- I do it to connect. And I’ve connected to so much that I value in my life through blogging. I was reminded of that on Sunday.

The Happiest

Scott just sent me this pic. He says that at the moment this picture was taken, I was the happiest he’s ever seen me. I think the plane was about to take off and we were finally going to be on our way home from Ethiopia with T. It may well be the happiest I’ve ever been. I thought I’d share it.

Accentuate the Positive

I realize that sometimes I’m guilty of sharing the hard parenting moments and breezing right over the good stuff. So I’d like to give you an update on our struggles with T and his challenging behaviors, because we’ve had a few pretty amazing breakthroughs. I attribute them in large part to the work we’ve been doing since we attended the Heather Forbes seminar a few months back.

Far and away the most challenging thing for me to deal with has been T’s rejection of me. Even when I’m able to remain grounded and patient and not take it personally all day long (it’s a rare day, but it happens), come bedtime I still find myself lying there with tears rolling down my face, thinking that in a million years I never imagined being a mother would feel like this.

I’ve decided to answer his rejection with yet more affection. Every time my impulse is to walk away, I instead go tell him I love him and offer another hug. Even if it means getting bopped in the face with a train car yet again.

Well, I’m thrilled to report that there’s been a definite shift. I’m still getting a pretty regular smack-down; I got an airplane wing in the eyeball just yesterday. But T has been accepting my love and snuggles lately more often than not. We’re having more fun together when we hang out just the two of us. And he’s been looking to me for comfort, which is major.

I imagine for parents with children without disrupted attachment, this must sound as normal as breathing. But for us it signals a profound shift.

Scott is leaving for tour tomorrow and I dread the fallout of that because Daddy is the star of our show around here. I imagine we’ll have some good old fashioned regression. But overall, I feel tremendously encouraged.

And yes, that’s a whoopie cushion he’s sitting on in the picture. Because I believe it’s important to expose children to culture as early as possible.

Birthday Crazy

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Tariku turned 3 on Sunday and I admit it- I went birthday crazy. We threw an absolute rager at his fave spot: Travel Town in Griffith Park. Travel Town is a train museum that T visits at least twice a week. It was an ideal place for his party because there’s tons of outdoor space, so T could go off and chill when he got overwhelmed.

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I honestly had no idea how it was going to go over. I hoped that he would have a blast but I had accepted the possibility that he might get overstimulated and want to get the heck out of there. Still, I wanted to give it a try. I’m happy to report that it went over beautifully. He loved it. He’s still talking about it.

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We had the Let’s Be Frank organic hot dog cart and crafts and choo choos and a chocolate cake decorated with an airbrushed rendering of his new blue guitar. We even had Brobie from Yo Gabba Gabba.

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T’s over-the-top baby bash had a precedent. While I was swept up in the frenzy of the party planning, I recalled the extravagant theme parties my own mother used to throw for me as a kid. One could look at this as a legacy of bourgeois suburban madness, but I remember the parties very fondly. She wasn’t generally a showy or competitive kind of mom and I believe our birthday parties were a real creative outlet for her, as well as a chance to just joyfully indulge for a day. I took the torch and ran with it and I’m glad I did. It was a special day. I don’t think I’ll do it every year, but this is the first birthday that T was really aware of and it was fun to deliver it in style.

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And seriously, how great is Scott? For a million things, but particularly for agreeing to get completely dorky and wear matching engineer outfits.

The pictures were taken by our friend Leon Mostovoy (have him shoot your party or portrait: leonmostovoy@yahoo.com) and by our own stalwart Auntie Jo (who just got on my case for never giving her credit when I post her videos).

Grief and Empathy and Snow Balls

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I’m not sure I experience grief in the traditional Kubler-Ross five stages. Rather, I think my grief has five food groups. I’m the kind of gal who uses anything I can get my hands on to stuff my feelings into oblivion. For the past week I’ve been in the fourth food group of grief: Chocolate. The fifth is probably Weight Watchers.

Since Jennifer died, I’ve been having a hard time clearing the fog from my eyes long enough to even answer my emails much less to be creative or to be a present parent. I’m going to tell you what I prayed for at the bedside of my friend, who had just overdosed herself into a coma. I prayed that I be shown a way to give my son the tools he’ll need in life to never wind up in a bed like that.

I’ve been worried lately that I’m failing at that very task. Both Scott and I have been spending too many nights with our heads in our hands- unsure how things got out of our control, unclear about how to make it better.

I was well aware of the challenges involved with adopting a child who wasn’t a newborn, particularly one who had spent a significant portion of his young life in an orphanage. Theoretically, I was prepared for the behaviors connected to early childhood trauma. But, as any parent knows, theoretical parenting is about as good as theoretical dancing. You ain’t gonna learn to do a pirouette by reading about it.

Even before we were parents, Scott and I were immediately attracted to Non-Violent Parenting, which is based on empathy and nurturing rather than judgement and control. We knew a lot of people who had gone through the parenting classes at The Echo Center and were inspired by the respectful way they interacted with their children.

We’ve been trying to practice non-violent communication with T, except we keep screwing up. For instance, I’ve been unable to keep myself from screaming at him. And then I absolutely hate myself for it. But honestly, he’s infuriating. He’s beyond infuriating. Nearly every interaction with T is a battle. It always takes us an hour to get out of the house. Scott and I get bit and spit at and hit in the face many, many times a day. An hour ago he pulled a hunk of hair out of my head and then got grossed out and asked for my help getting it out of his mouth.

And most of the people I know have been saying- why the heck don’t you discipline him? Why don’t you give him a time out?

Well, it’s complicated. We don’t punish him because instead we’re trying to empathize with the needs behind his behaviors and to help him start to identify his feelings. But the problem is that I haven’t been all that successful in figuring out his needs. I thought it would be a lot more obvious. Maybe the difficulty arises from the fact that I’ve always been someone who stuffs my feeling rather than addressing them.

So Scott and I went in last week for a private counseling session with Ruth Beaglehole, the woman behind the Echo Center and the Nonviolent Parenting movement. It was amazing. We both walked out with a big shift in our perspective. We learned that, like parenting and dancing, empathy isn’t a theoretical exercise. I intellectually understood that I was meant to be empathetic with my child. I read about trauma for a year before we adopted him; I went to Africa and saw it with my own eyes. And yet, in the moment I simply wanted him to stop acting like such a freaked-out, aggressive wierdo and just fucking sing along with the rest of the well-behaved kids at Music Together.

Ruth helped us to acknowledge the fact that his behavior is fear-based and grounded in the assumption that the world is a frightening place in which everyone he loves will abandon him. Every time we let him push us over the edge we’re confirming that assumption and re-enforcing the trauma.

I have a picture of T when he first arrived at the orphanage and I can barely look at it, it makes me so sad. He looks absolutely terrified. It’s hard for me to remember that my hilarious, charming, fierce little man is somewhere in him still that scared baby. So now every time I’m confronted with his maddening behavior, I try to access the same empathy I feel when I look at the picture. It’s hard. It’s painful. And it makes me realize how little empathy I was feeling before.

We’ve recommitted to non-violent strategies and we’ve been doing better. On Sunday we took T up to Mt. Baldy to have his first glimpse of snow. And because it was a new experience, he was anxious and controlling and combative all morning. But we were somehow able to breathe and move through it and arrive at the magical moment of him saying, “SNOW!” We even got it on film. Here it is.

Awesome Anniversary

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On Sunday, we celebrated the anniversary of the day that Tariku was first placed in our arms. He apparently got the memo that mommy was going to be a gooey, sentimental pushover that day because he turned on the wicked T-Bone charm and it totally worked. I gave him everything he wanted all day long, setting a fantastic precedent for next weekend. But still- how fun was that? To just go ahead and say yes to everything. Another ride? Sure. Ice cream? No problem. Listen to that song for the fiftieth time? Rock out! Watch another episode of Gabba? To hell with IQ points! Fries for lunch? My thoughts exactly! It was so liberating.

Sadly, Scott was laid up with a back injury, so T and I decided to celebrate by going to the Santa Monica Pier and riding the balloon ride over and over until I was so nauseated I literally had to lie down on a bench. T kept vigil at my side and gravely announced to all passers by, “Mommy barf.”

Then we did the only sensible thing to do when nauseated- eat a bucket of fries and chase pigeons.

But seriously, he was adorable, he was perfection. It was nothing less than a freaking miracle. Actually, on the hardest days it’s nothing less than a freaking miracle. It’s just easy to forget. Until you look at this picture, taken two years ago on Monday:

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The Place to Be

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Next weekend is the 9th Annual Little Ethiopia Cultural Street Festival and International Unity Parade. Here’s an interesting blog post about the thriving Ethiopian community in L.A.

We’ll be there chowing down on wat, getting jacked up on coffee and dancing our butts off. Join us!

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Ragin’ With You, My Sister

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Besides having the best name in the world, Kristen Howerton’s blog, Rage Against the Minivan, is one of my adoption touchstones. They re-aired her appearance on The View today and her blog post about all the things she wishes she had said is a mind blower.

Here’s a tidbit:

I wanted to talk about the deficits that we will have as a white couple raising black children. I wanted to compare it to a single mom raising boys . . . how we will need help from others. I wanted to talk about how painful it can be as a parent to know that, while I can empathize, I will never fully understand my sons’ experiences as African Americans, or as transracial adoptees. I wanted to talk about how every adoptive parent needs to suck up their pride and admit that we can’t do it alone.

I wanted to talk about how much I have learned from reading the writings of adult adoptees, and how their experiences of loss and isolation inform me as a parent, and also break my heart.

I wanted to talk about the persistent question I hear asking why people adopt internationally instead of taking care of “our own kids” in the US. I wanted to talk about how every child, in every nation, is deserving of a family, not just American children. I wanted to say how petty I find this question.

Accentuate the Positive

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A few weeks ago, an acquaintance gave me an advance copy of her upcoming novel, which has adoption-oriented themes. I’m not going to mention the book by name because the author is actually a lovely woman with good intentions, but as I read the book I felt my throat tightening and a cold pit growing in my stomach.

The book reinforced negative stereotype after negative stereotype of people in the adoption community. There is a mercenary, dishonest agency owner with ten “souvenir” children adopted from all over the world, for whom “home schooling” is synonymous with neglect. There is a rich, racist, neurotic prospective adoptive mother and her racist, whoremonger, absent husband. The prospective fathers at an adoption information picnic exchange derisive asides as their wives anxiously wring their hands and angle for the best caseworker. The birth mothers involved in the domestic adoptions are either tragically wronged angels or criminal, money-grubbing skanks.

I read the book through to the end because I kept wanting to find something redeeming but there wasn’t a shred of positivity to be had.

I was so upset that I had a hard time sleeping that night. I was disturbed at least partially because the book wasn’t meant to be anti-adoption. In fact, the woman had given it to me knowing that Tariku was adopted. When I discussed it with her later, she insisted that she was just trying to explore the complexities around domestic adoption and look at the fact that someone always gets their heart broken. Negative stereotypes around adoption are so acceptable that a major publishing house apparently agrees with her.

I don’t believe in either art police or thought police and I don’t believe that it is our responsibility as artists to portray positive imagery of anything. It is our responsibility as artists to tell truth. I don’t say “the truth” because I believe there are many different truths. I know that the author did her best to tell truth as she saw it.

However, my truth about adoption is so radically different from hers that it cost me sleep. The glorious thing about being a writer is that I have a forum for telling my version of the story (next book idea? Perhaps…).

Adoption is indeed complex and imperfect and at its core there is loss and heartbreak. My son has lost his birth family, his birth country, his culture, his language. There has already been so much sorrow in his 27 months on this earth that I sometimes lie in bed next to him while he sleeps and cry just thinking about it.

But that is not the end of the story; it’s the beginning. I can’t erase the loss from his life, but today and every day after, I can offer him a safe and loving home where his feelings are respected and his history is treasured. Nor can I erase the loss of a birth family too besieged by famine and poverty to care for a little boy, but I can honor their sacrifice.

The channels through which children are adopted are imperfect and need vigilant examination. And adoption isn’t the answer for world problems like poverty and lack of health care, but that doesn’t change the fact that children need homes and they need them now. Adoption isn’t a solution for Ethiopia’s challenges, but it was a solution for Tariku and it was a solution for us.

So do we really need another book with reprehensible characters in the adoption world? Do we really need another horror movie where there is a bad seed orphan running around with sharp kitchen utensils? There is so much suspicion of difference and unfortunately still so much stigma around adoption.

We don’t need any more bad press.

So I’d like to share some good press. Adoption is imperfect, but I’m wildly passionate about it and one of the reasons is the incredible people it’s introduced into my life. Here are links to honest, intelligent blogs from some amazing adoptive families. Some are my faves and some were pitched in by my mama girlfriends.

Rage Against The Minivan

Our Little Tongginator

Welcome To My Brain

Dreaming Big Dreams

Ethiopian Tripletland

The Big Five

The Lost Planet

Easties and Company

Under the Acacia Tree

Then and Now

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Last weekend we went to Austin for a reunion with the families with whom we traveled to Ethiopia. A little over a year ago, we all sat in a big room together and held our babies for the first time. We shared something deeply sacred and extremely hard to explain.

It was a family reunion of sorts. Previous to our trip to Ethiopia, I always had two flavors of family in my life- my given family and my chosen family. But the Ethiopia clan is kind of a third category… they’re a family given to me by fate. We nine families were thrown together by the random luck of our close proximity on a waiting list, but also by the deep commonality of our decision to adopt from Ethiopia. And with this family, as in so many things, I am truly fortunate.

The five families who made it to Austin attempted to recreate the infamous “couch picture.” It was WAY harder with lively and wild toddlers than it was with the dazed infants we placed on a couch in Ethiopia a year ago. All baby wrangling difficulty aside, the cuteness could have just killed me dead.

It was amazing to see all the little peanuts thriving so beautifully. T is going through an annoying, somewhat disturbing and definitely embarrassing phase right now where he tries to make out with every kid he sees and when they don’t respond with quite the same enthusiasm, he pummels them. Living in a house with seven other kids really gave us a chance to practice our public solution-oriented behavior as well as our private head-holding despair.

Still, I’d do it again tomorrow, even with the constant WWF baby smackdown. I miss everyone already.

But what I really learned from our Texas rental ranch was that we don’t have nearly enough taxidermy in our lives here in LA…

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A Year In The Life

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Just over a year ago we returned from Africa with T. It’s taken me a minute to write about it for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I have a BABY now (yes, I really, really do) and I’m a wee bit short on blogging time. The second is that I’ve been snowed under with emotion about it. I’m caught off guard at odd moments by memories of the faces of the people who cared for my son at some point along his incredible journey. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the hands that bathed and fed and held him while he waited, and we waited, to become a family. I watch him while he sleeps and I thank T’s birth mother, I thank his caregivers, I thank the adoption agency, for keeping him safe and for ultimately bringing us together.

A year. It feels like he’s always been here and at the same time it feels so strange- we have a little boy now. Yes, we really, really do. How do I know this? Over the course of five minutes I tripped on a toy truck, a ukulele and a smooshed pear.

Tour Day ???: Kansas City… Babies, Buses and Boobies

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It’s reached that time of the tour when I no longer know the date, the day of the week, or how many days we’ve been on the road. The tour has become its own little universe and all I know is how many hours are left on the bus before we reach the next stop.

Kansas City was rainy and chaotic, but the friends abounded and the rock was epic and the guys got treated to some impressive booby-flashing while they were on stage, so we can safely say that Kansas City had a little something for everyone.

T had a tour bus reunion with his friend Ezra from the care center in Ethiopia. This will make the third family that we’ve been able to reconnect with in the eight months since we’ve been home. I can’t adequately express how moving it is to see these kids grow and thrive. This little guy was the youngest and the smallest of the babies from our travel group and I carry a vivid memory of his face as we said goodbye to him at the airport. Then, his face was all scared, huge eyes. Now, it’s all chubby cheeks and laughter. I’m proud to say that Weezer was his first rock show. He fell asleep.

Jersey Girl Makes Good

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We took Tariku to my parents’ house in Jersey last week because my brother David was in town from Israel with his six-year-old son. David is Hasidic, so the two boys live in different galaxies, but it didn’t seem to matter. They were so sweet together, batting around a beach ball and screaming in the pool. Don’t they look like they’re planning to take over the world in this picture? I’m skeptical sometimes that T will be able to maintain any kind of relationship with his cousin, but that’s an assumption formed from my own anger at religious extremism. Children have a way of discarding all of those obstacles in the name of a good splashing match.

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T also had a reunion with Eliyashu, one of his old friends from the care center in Ethiopia. Eliyashu’s mommy Nehama, a rabbinical student and an extremely rad lady, performed a little Hebrew naming ceremony in our backyard. T’s Hebrew name is Sippur Ya’akov, after my grandmother and grandfather. Sippur means “story” in Hebrew, as Tariku means “history” or “my story” in Amharic. Indeed, he has a big story already for such a little guy. Check out his awesome kippah, handmade by grandma.

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T was his ever-awake self on the airplane and slept a total of an hour on both flights combined, but he has a Gypsy soul (Gypsy soul, Ethiopian blood, Pagan parents, Hebrew name) and loves to be on the move, so at least he was cheery. His eyes were saucers as we lifted off the ground. He kept looking at me like: are you seeing this!? He says “airplane” at least sixty-three times a day now.

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