In 1 week, 0 days, and 16 hours we will be on our way to Ethiopia. Aghh!! Yay!! Wow. When it comes to stuff like this I get the most stressed about 1-2 weeks before the event. So yes, right about now. By the time I am within a day or two of something huge, I am totally relaxed. Everything is done, all is prepared, and I have nothing else left to do but be excited. But a week or two beforehand my sensory perception goes all wacko and I start feeling like the impending event is closer than it really is and that I'm much further from being ready than I really am. Today it feels like I am just about to hit the balancing point where the to-do list seems manageable and the deadline for getting it done is just the right distance away... ahhhh, deep breath.
I was watching the Teen Mom season finale today (judge if you must, I'm addicted) and had this strange sense of connection with first-parents Tyler and Catelynn as they drove 8 hours to see their daughter Carly and her adoptive parents for the first time in a year. They were nervous and worked up about the weirdness of seeing someone you love so much but don't know at all. On the car ride they wondered out loud: Will she like us? What will it feel like to hold her? What does her laugh sound like? How will we feel when we meet her? Like Tyler and Catelynn, we've seen pictures of our little one and gotten updates on his development, but that is no substitute for real, live interaction! Watching their sweet reunion gave me a funny feeling in my chest -- a nervous, hopeful, excited twinge of anticipation for our own upcoming meeting. Like Tyler and Catelynn, we'll have a day or two to meet and play and give a few gifts... and then say "see you later." Not good-bye, just see you later.
[I think it goes without saying, but of course a first meeting between birthparents and child is a fundamentally different experience than a first meeting between adoptive parents and child... the comparison doesn't go very far, obviously. Still, it was interesting to be able to relate to some of their feelings!]
Last night at dinner we were all talking about kids in Nate's kindergarten class. Jon has been trying to get him to learn 2 new names every day, so Nate reported that he learned the name of a girl in his class and that she is from Ethiopia. We asked how he knew that and he said because "she wears a hood". Well, we explained, some girls who wear a scarf on their head are from Ethiopia, but not all of them. And some girls are from Ethiopia but they don't wear a scarf. And that if he asked his new friend where she was from, she might say "I'm from here," because maybe she is. Then we started talking about ancestors and how maybe his friend is from Seattle, but her ancestors might be from Ethiopia, or lots of other places around the world. I realized that we have never really told Nate or Dexter where their ancestors are from. Hmm... since we will definitely talk frequently about our Ethiopian son's heritage, maybe we should also talk to our Dutch/Western European Mutt children about theirs! I think it would be strange if they could tell people "my brother's ancestors are from Ethiopia" but not be able to answer that question for themselves. Looks like it is time to get out the globe!
We were driving the other day and Dexter was talking about when he was a baby. He's been bringing that up a lot lately and I wonder if it is because he is anticipating not being the baby of the family anymore... Anyway, it led to an interesting conversation between me and Nate.
Dexter: Nate, when you were born did you hold me?
Nate: No, when I was born you weren't born yet. I was born in California, and you were born in Seattle.
Me: And [our little guy] was born in Ethiopia.
Nate: But you weren't there. You didn't know him when he was born. You had never met him when we were going to adopt [the little girl we thought we were adopting back in April].
Me: [Quiet for a long time.] That's true, I wasn't there. But I do know where he was born, and I am going to go there to see it next week. And I'll take pictures so you can see it too.
Me: Are you sad we didn't adopt [little girl]?
Nate: [in a "Mom you are so silly" tone of voice] No, I'm not sad!
Me: Good. You're excited to adopt [our little guy]?
Me: Well good. Me too.