Thursday, June 30, 2011

Changed Forever

One year ago today started out just like any other day. I was on summer vacation. So I slept late, probably ate leftover pizza for breakfast, and then caught up on TV shows. Sometime that afternoon, I thought about what I would wear to Nashville. I had to pick up Dana from the airport. She was coming home from her month in Rwanda and I could not wait to hear ALL about it! I figured she might want to go to dinner that night since she would have eaten African food for an entire month. I know that being in Ethiopia, I am glad to be home and to not eat Italian for a while.

On my way to the airport, I got a phone call. Okay, let me set the scene. Dana’s flight landed around 5:00 p.m. So I have to deal with everyone in Nashville trying to get home. And I have to get all the way over to the airport. Nashville traffic doesn’t bother me. I know where I am going (most of the time). But now throw into the mix a phone call from a 770 area code. The area code where America World is located! So, on top of navigating through traffic, I now I to answer the phone.

And who knows what they want when they call. It could be a million different things-something could be wrong with my paperwork once it got to Ethiopia, they are letting me know that I need to prepare to wait another few months, or they could be calling to let me know I have been matched.

Today’s call was the referral call. 5:00 traffic was no match for the adrenaline rush that I felt when the girl on the other end of the phone said that had a match for me. An adorable two-year-old boy who seems shy and reserved, but very smart. He is small for his age, but has shown growth in the past few months since he had been placed in the orphanage. She went on to tell me about his health issues-nothing I couldn’t deal with. And I honestly don’t think anything she would have told me would have deterred me. I was trying to think rationally and process all of the things she was telling me. I was also trying to take notes about what she was saying while I was driving. I know. Not the safest thing I could have done! But I was overwhelmed with emotion. And I am a note-taking kind of person. So this just goes with who I am. I don’t care about safety as much as I care about having info about my potential future child.

While I am taking notes, she tells me that she will email all of this information to me. Great to know now that I have almost taken out a few cars ;) She is also going to include some photos of the boy. And at this point that is all he was- a little boy from Ethiopia who could possibly be my child, if I accept the referral. Once I got off the phone with her, my phone loaded the email that she had sent. I could not wait to open the pictures and see him. But I made a few phone calls first. I called my family and tried to remember all of the details I was given.

Once I got to the airport, and parked to wait for Dana, I allowed myself to open the email and see his face. Well, it was love at first sight. Duh! How could you look at his face and not fall in love! But, I was still trying to be rational. Some of the medical things that she told me were a little frightening. But in my heart, I could already picture this child as my own. Just the two of us against the world. Who cared about low iron or being really tiny for his age? I didn’t. Nothing mattered once I saw his face.

*See nine month blog for the picture I received that day

So Dana was the first one I told face to face. She cried with me as I jumped for joy (literally-embarrassing, I know!). Hey, I was at the airport. I could have been jumping for joy because I had not seen Dana’s smiling face for an entire month. And I will admit that every time I went to Nashville and did not see her, it felt weird, like something was missing. But she was home now, so all was right with the world.

And the world had just gotten a little happier. Baby Z, what Larkin went by until I decided on Larkin, was going to have a family. I just had to jump through a few more hoops until he was officially mine.

My family has not always been so supportive of the idea of me adopting from Ethiopia. “Why not get a baby from Russia so it will look like you?” “Are you sure he is only two? He looks older.” “Do you know how hard your life is going to be with a black baby?” "Are you SURE you want to do this?" "Do you know how expensive raising a child can be?"

None of these questions stopped me from doing what I knew God wanted me to do. My life had been hard enough already. Life-threatening cancer at 19, parents divorce after almost 30 years, how tough could raising a baby really be!?!? Notice I didn't say black baby. When I see pictures of our time in Ethiopia, I do not see black and white. I see people who need God's love just like I do. There is no color there. And when I look at Larkin, I do not see a black baby. I see my baby.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew the stereotypes that small-town America had (still has) about white girls and black babies. But that wasn’t what this was about. This was about me bringing a smart, determined, inquisitive little boy into my family. And this was about the feeling that I had two years before, while I stood in a tiny room with a dirt floor and held a chunk of a baby boy in Ethiopia. My heart was ripped from my chest. And my heart came back to me in the arms of another little boy-a little older, a little more scarred, a little tougher of a life endured. But my heart returned.

And now I allow that same little boy to carry my heart with him wherever he goes. Because let’s face it, I didn’t say no to him on this day in June of 2009, why would I start saying no to him now? Seriously, look at this face. Who can say no to that?

Here are some photos of Larkin with my family. They are much more supportive of my decision now that he is here for them to love!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nine Months and counting

Wow! Nine months! On one hand, it feels like Larkin has been here for his entire life. On the other hand, it feels like I’m just starting this parenting thing. We have definitely had our good days and bad days…and some really not so great days!

From the moment I laid eyes on him in June, I was in love. If you had told me then, how much I would love him now, I wouldn’t have believed you. We have both grown so much as people. He has learned English and a lot of animal sounds! And I have learned how to be patient when it doesn’t seem possible.

I got teary eyed the other day at the grocery store thinking about how far we have come. From the days of Larkin not leaving my side and having to be in the same room with me, to now playing in the backyard while I plant flowers in the front yard. It seems so small, but it really is a huge thing.

I remember having to pick him up before I could get my car keys out of my purse, or there would be a meltdown that I might be leaving him. Now, he waves from his couch at the babysitter’s house as I head to work each day.

There were so many tears and tantrums because we didn’t speak each other’s language, but now, there are tantrums because I understand that he wants to stay up late and each popcorn, but I still say no.

We had days where the only sounds Larkin would make would be grunts or cries. Now, he can (almost) speak in full sentences. Especially sentences about things he really loves, like the movie Cars and his Mack truck...the best birthday present I could have purchased! Although it kept him from wanting to open any other presents ;)

Larkin used to be terrified of ALL animals! We have lost a cat and gained a kitten in the last nine months, and after we cried our tears over Harris, Larkin was eager to welcome Gus to our family! Larkin will even go to the fence to give Lola and Sampson a treat. He still doesn't want to be in the fence with him. And there are some days when I don't blame him! Larkin's love of animals continues to grow. Last Thursday we had a successful trip to the zoo. The only thing that scared him was the carousel. So he spent his time riding round and round in my arms. Baby steps....At least there were no tears when the elephants and giraffes were right next to the fence.

The picture below is of Larkin and his best friend, Finn, checking out the flamingos. It was hard to get pictures of the boys AND the animals.

Bedtime used to be a two hour disaster with both of us in tears. Now it is a fifteen minute quiet time where Larkin says “hold you” in the sweetest voice. So for that time each night, I am so thankful that he wants to be a part of my life. I know that some families have not had it as “easy” as we have. And I know that in a few very short years, he will not even want me in his room, much less holding him while he falls asleep. So, while there is laundry to be done, I will cherish those fifteen minutes because I know they will be gone too soon!

Larkin’s birthmother carried him in her body for nine months, and I am sure will carry the memory of him forever. And I will forever be thankful for the nine months that she nurtured him to become the healthy three year old that could play for hours in a pool.



About Me

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I am single, 30 year old teacher in Tennessee. I am anxiously awaiting a child from Ethiopia. I cannot wait to add this adventure to my life!