Goodbye. Hello.

Our adoption was finalized in Ethiopia on the day of the inauguration. We all attended a goodbye ceremony at the care center, where the nannies and the children were dressed in traditional costumes and the staff said a few words about each child before praying together. The rest of the children sang to those who were leaving and Tariku left his little handprint in a book. It was sad and it was great and the whole time part of me was wishing we were just on the plane home already. I felt that way the entire week. But, in retrospect, I appreciate the importance of the rituals involved and the respectful and slow way that the children were transitioned.

In the afternoon we went to the embassy. The TV in the corner of the corner of the room was playing the BBC News. We watched as hundreds of thousands gathered on the National Mall in the dark, waiting for the day to begin. Scott and I were told there was some problem with our paperwork. For a long moment, we really thought we were going to be staying in Addis for an unspecified amount of time until they worked it out. In the end, we made it through.

Tariku conked out around 7:30 that night. I really had no idea if it was going to wake him up, but I had to try. I picked him up and carried him downstairs to the den where everyone was watching TV. Scott and I watched Obama’s inauguration with our son sleeping on my chest.

Sea Changes

Sea changes. I?ve always liked the phrase and I hear it all over the place now. On election night, we ate dry turkey and sugar snap peas while parked in front of the television with Suzanne and her three-year-old son Charlie. Charlie was tired- he sat on top of the coffee table and crawled behind the couch and refused to eat his peas. We watched as the states outlined on the map flipped from white to blue or red. It was like watching Wheel of Fortune when the winning phrase emerges from the board with sudden clarity. Our guests had just left when they announced Obama the 44th president-elect of the United States.

How can I say where my heart sat? I was a bit feverish, a bit fluish that night and I got the wicked chills, felt a surge of emotion pressing against my throat. On the screen we witnessed an outpouring of joy and hope, crowds of people hugging and waving flags and weeping. Scott and I cried and held each other on the couch and felt proud to be a part of this moment, a part of that crowd if only by proxy.

Sea changes. In a couple of months Scott and I will bring our son Tariku home from Africa and he will be able to see faces the same color as his in the White House. When he?s old enough, I will tell him about November 4, 2008. I hope by that time, we will be able to look back and see that this moment was a harbinger of true and lasting change. I hope that by the time my son is old enough to understand the significance of Obama?s election, civil rights will have been granted to every citizen of this country equally and finally.

Read ?In Our Lifetime,? a great article by Henry Louis Gates Jr.