Friday, December 23, 2011

prayer warrior

We say prayers with Z before bedtime and naps each day. Like good Presbyterians, we fold our hands and close our eyes and speak softly, thanking God for his blessings and praying for our friends, family, and others around the world. Lately, after I finish saying prayers, Z wants to say his own prayers: he scrunches up his face, hunches his shoulders, and mumbles unintelligibly. Sometimes he throws in some wild hand gestures or sways from side to side, and on rare occasion I can make out a word or two (usually a name of someone we have seen that day). It absolutely cracks me up because it is not like anything he has seen people here do when they pray... I guess they must have had some pretty rockin' prayer sessions at the Widow & Orphan homes! It is amazing to see the little treasures he has kept with him from that time.

In other news, he is thoroughly enjoying his first Christmas season in America! Ever since his 2nd birthday in April, he has been a huge fan of all things birthday related, so the fact that Christmas is Baby Jesus' birthday makes it extra special in his book. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011


This smile says it all: my son is happy.

Last night we saw some friends who haven't seen Z since summertime and they kept telling us how different he seemed compared to a few months ago. "He just seems so much more open and relaxed now," was the comment we heard more than once.

Not that he was miserable before, but over the past few months we have noticed a subtle shift in Z's overall demeanor. He is comfortable. He feels safe. He not only trusts us as his parents, he also trusts his environment. These feelings of safety and trust have given him a freedom to play, and laugh, and open himself up in deeper ways than we have seen before. It is beautiful and miraculous and the best present this mama could ever ask for.

I'll wrap this up with two cute little stories from the past week:

I have sung the exact same 4 songs to Z every time I put him down for a nap or bedtime since the first month he came home. He seems to thrive on that predictability and has gotten mad any time I've tried to stray from the routine... until the other day when he asked me to sing the "star song", which I managed to figure out meant "Away in a Manger". (We have a kids nativity set that plays that song when you push a button and a star lights up while the song is playing.) Now he insists on us singing the 'star song' before naps and bed -- it's become his own little Advent tradition.

Last night when I tucked him in I asked him, "Who loves Z?" and he smiled up at me and said, "Jesus!" Melt my heart.

Monday, December 12, 2011

who is my neighbor

Karin Kraus: The Good Samaritan

It could have been me. I could have been born in a country where women are property. I could have become pregnant at an age when I should have been jumping rope. I could have contracted HIV from my unfaithful husband, had no access to medication, gotten sicker and sicker, and died before my baby's first steps. I could have suffered from mental illness in a place where you can't even find band-aids. I could have been forced to choose between losing my child forever or watching us both slowly starve. It could have been me.*

People often ask us why we adopted. It's not because we have so much to offer. It's not because we're nice. It's not because we wanted to be heroes. It's because it could just as easily have been our family torn apart by circumstances far beyond our control, the children born to us left to fend for themselves.

It is so easy to forget that. It is easy to think we are safe, we are different, or (forgive us, Lord) we are better. It is easy to pretend that we earned this life. It is easy to see ourselves as those who have climbed high enough to be able to condescend a few rungs on the ladder to help a poor soul. But we're not, and we didn't, and we haven't.

There are no strangers. We are brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. We are not made to be all things to all people, but we are still made for each other.

Who is my neighbor? The one I love, not out of pity, but out of recognition. He is my son.

*These examples are not specific to Z's birth family, but they are all commonplace circumstances in Ethiopia.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


We are making lots of fun new memories together this season, but it was an old memory that blew me away yesterday.

Z was playing with a little fleece scarf as I prepped dinner. This kid loves to accessorize, so he was having a good old time finding different ways to wear the scarf and I was not paying too much attention -- just thankful to have him occupied while I cooked. "Baby back-pack-pack?" (That's his word for backpack - he throws the extra syllable in there just for fun.) I looked over at him and was confused for a minute. He had wrapped the scarf around his belly and was smiling up at me like he'd done something clever. "Z baby back-pack-pack!" he announced. Oh! Finally silly mommy got it: he was pretending to have a baby wrapped on his back with the scarf. Which he has not seen since he left Ethiopia nine months ago. How crazy is that? Makes me wonder what else he remembers... My psychology background tells me that by the time he is old enough to answer the question "What do you remember from Ethiopia?" he will not have much, if anything, to say. I know that in my head, but my heart longs to hear so much more.

We can't do much to help Z keep his old memories, but we are having lots of fun making new ones together. This season has been particularly sweet, as we watch Z take in all the new experiences of his first Christmas season in America. Surprises so far: he was not scared to meet Santa and he is totally unfazed by the huge fir tree in our house. Not-so-surprising: he made loud silly noises through our whole Advent candle lighting and family devotional time, he's loving the Fisher Price nativity set, and he thinks candy canes are the best thing ever. Can't argue with that!