Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 2...Embassy

I hesitated to share this entry.  Day two was a very tough day.  I was afraid it might discourage others from stepping out and adopting, but after reading this I realized I need to follow her advice and share the hard parts because this is real life.  Adoption is wonderful, but like anything else God calls us to, it has it's hard, gut-wrenching moments...moments of doubt and fear and struggle.  If it didn't, God would not need to be part of it.  So here is day 2 in all, glory.  I hope this helps you to be prepared for the hard times as well...because I can now tell you they are just a temporary struggle.  God has already brought Mari so far.  Maybe that is why I can post this, because I know so much more now than I knew then.  So be encouraged, friends.  God is in the transformation business!

Ethiopia Trip 2 Day #2

Last night was not exactly restful. Katie, who was sleeping off the nausea, awakened at 10:30 after having slept 8 ½ hours. No big deal. She knew I was sleeping and just lay there waiting and hoping to fall asleep again. Mari, on the other hand...

She had become very restless in her sleep. Since I did not know if she stayed dry through the night I decided to take her to the bathroom in case that was the reason for her squirminess. I then put her back in bed with me, but she had had what SHE considered a nap and was ready to par-tay. I, on the other hand, was going on my 4th hour of sleep in 48 hours and had not one shred of energy left. Not one. I tried everything to get her to lay back down but she refused. She started the scratching again and I am ashamed to admit I felt completely frustrated. I would rather she just CRY. I said to her firmly, with her hands enclosed in mine, “Do not scratch me, Mari. Do not scratch me” in Amharic. She looked at me with surprise, and stopped. She then started to whine and jump up and down and point and I could not for the life of me figure out what she wanted. Finally I grabbed the right thing...the Fisher Price iXL that I had brought to keep her entertained. Fine, I thought. If it will make her be quiet so I can sleep she can play with it.

She played with it for over 2 hours. I awakened at 4:30am to find her asleep with it next to her head. Thank God. Katie had also dozed off again, but awakened after totaling 11 hours of sleep. Her tummy was queasy again so I gave her a dose of medicine which, thankfully, did the trick. But jet lag had taken its toll and we were both wide awake, knowing we would regret it later.

Mari awakened around 6 and was in good spirits. Katie happily picked out her outfit and we dressed her together. I was glad to see Katie enjoying her. We ate breakfast downstairs then met Job at 8:30 for the Embassy appointment. Hallelujah, let's get this thing over with!

We went through security and arrived to a packed waiting area. Oh dear. We sat in the only 2 empty seats, with Mari in my lap, and began the wait. She did fine for a long time, and I was very happy with her ability to sit still and just be calm. After nearly an hour of it, though, she began trying to climb over my shoulders and invade the personal space of everyone within a ten foot radius. When I asked her to sit down by me, the scratching began again. Sigh. I again firmly told her not to do that, and she listened after about the third time. At one point, she was sitting in a chair that had vacated next to me so Katie asked to sit in my lap. Immediately Mari began trying to push her off and get in my lap. THIS was a battle I was going to win. I showed her that I have room for both of them, and she is NOT going to make Katie move. She did not like it one bit. Finally she gave up and shared my lap, and I prayed this would not be a major battle when we get home.

We got called to window #15 after 1 hour and 15 minutes of waiting and I was so very thankful that we were being interviewed by the only American that I had seen in the entire compound. He asked me the expected questions, exhanged paperwork, and that was that. We left, relieved to have this last paperwork and government hurdle over with. I was officially ready to get home to the rest of my babies...homesickness was setting in.

We decided to kill time by sightseeing, so we went to the Museum at the University of Addis where we saw all kinds of Ethiopian artifacts. At one point we went up a flight of stairs and there was a genuine stuffed lion...poised for attack. Mari nearly did somersaults to get away when she saw it. I felt so sorry for her. I had noticed that in a book I read yesterday, when she saw a picture of a lion she had covered it with her hands and mumbled as if to say “I don't like this.” I could only assume that they were a real threat in her native region. I quickly took her into a different room to wait for the group to move on. Later in the tour, we were shown a replica of a mud hut with a grass roof. She LIT UP with excitement, pointing and smiling and showing absolute joy at the familiarity of that little house. This type of dwelling was her home for three years. She obviously remembers it, and remembers it with fondness. Another reminder that she is being taken from everything familiar. How is she going to handle so much change?
The next item on the agenda was to take Katie to the Lucy Restaurant for a taste of authentic Ethiopian food. We ordered roasted lamb with injera. She liked it, but her stomach was still not 100 percent so she only ate a small amount. Mari, on the other hand, ate two platefuls of her own and part of mine. Where she put all that food in her tiny body is beyond me! It was amazing. After lunch we did a little shopping where Katie picked out a couple of souvenirs and I bought Mari a brightly colored cloth soccer ball that had caught her eye. Then we went to the coffee factory where I could finally purchase some of those delicious beans to take home. Oh the smell! We stuck around the lounge and enjoyed a macchiato, which Katie was thrilled to be allowed to try, and Mari was wild. I mean WILD. I could not drink my coffee fast enough to get her out of there. She went up to a total stranger, grabbed his coffee spoon, and stuck it in her mouth before I was even completely out of my chair. The she bolted and ran full speed OUT THE FRONT DOOR. Where there was a street. And cars. Oh no. I caught up with her, thankfully, because she was distracted by a group of 20-somethings chatting just outside the door at the only table on the sidewalk. She was laughing hysterically when I caught her. I took her back inside, paid for our coffee, and we went back to the Guest House where, over the course of the next 2 days she would make at least 6 more escape attempts.  Thank God for the security guard.  Sigh.  
We went up to our room and Katie looked at me with big, scared eyes, and burst into tears. She wants her Daddy. She wants to go home. She misses her siblings at home. I pried a little deeper because I knew in my heart where this was coming from...and I was right.

Mari is not fun. Not yet. She is out of control, willful, and can be downright mean. Katie was realizing that the “hard days coming” that we had tried to prepare them all for are, indeed, hard. This was hard. Katie doesn't really like her right now, and I don't blame her. She is manipulative and I am trying to figure out the best way to handle much discipline I need to enforce without jeopardizing the attachment process. It is hard. No other way to say it.

Oh, what a heyday the enemy was having.

We talked it through and I assured her that we can trust God. I promised that my love for her cannot and will not change. I told her that, even though it doesn't feel like it right now, Mari is the answer to her prayers, but God's answers sometimes require work and sacrifice from us. This is TOUGH to explain to anyone, but especially a child. We talked about what Mari has been through, the grief process she is walking through, and how she will get better and learn to behave. As I spoke, I was certainly speaking to my own doubts and fears which were surfacing and threatening me. All this time, Mari was playing quietly on her own, being a complete angel.

This is hard.

We went downstairs to the courtyard and Katie kicked a soccer ball around with a 7 yr old boy who was here with his parents. His mom and I began talking and she soon shared that they were adopting a 2 ½ yr old girl who apparently wasn't overly excited about her new mom or brother. Misery loves company, so I just admit that her confession of uncertainty made me feel better. The doubts are normal. I am not the only one. I watched, so very proud of my big girl, as she gave Mari a chance to play and very obviously tried to build a bridge. It was beautiful to watch her choose that path despite her emotions, and it appeared to pay off. We went inside for dinner and, once again, Mari ate enough to fill a grown man, then settled on the couch to chat with another family. By this time it was approaching 8 o'clock, and Mari was falling asleep against my shoulder. I carried her upstairs, took her to the potty, put on pj's, and laid her in bed.

And she popped right up.

Oh for crying out loud.

She was into everything and I tried lying next to her to settle her down, she only started picking at my face and ears. I tucked her in tight and she climbed out of bed. I tried to tell her in Amharic that she needed to lay down and go night-night, and she slapped me. I grabbed her hands and firmly said “no”...she tried to scratch my hands and I told her “do not scratch me” in Amharic. She then decided she was angry with me and wanted nothing to do with me, so she just sat up in the bed stubbornly for several minutes while I tried to reassure her that she is loved and it is time to lay her head on her pillow. She acted like I didn't exist. She tried to get out of bed again and I finally just picked her up and paced the room with her. She was so tired by now that she stopped fighting, lay her head on my shoulder, and went to sleep.

Thank God. 

I paced the room some more, pouring my heart out to God in a good old-fashioned pity party.
It was a big one.
He patiently listened while I complained and worried and whined. He sweetly reminded me that I have to remember where she is from. I told him I was afraid for the hearts and minds of my first four children who were all either missing mommy or missing daddy because mommy had taken her to Africa. I told him I was afraid this was going to be a big fat failure and that it would strain my marriage and my relationships with all of my children. He rocked me as I rocked her. He whispered to my heart that I can fight some battles later, but that I need to trust Him as this is His doing.

I know, I know. What a switch from yesterday.

Once I was SURE she was asleep I laid her down in the bed, tucked her teddy bear in next to her, and kissed my sweet Katie who had fallen asleep during all this.

Lord, it is done. She is here. And I am weak. Protect my children from the enemy's lies. Help them love this child who, right now, seems unlovely. Create in her a clean heart and remove the violent defenses that she resorts to when she is upset. And give me eyes to see into her heart...your eyes. Let me love her well, help my husband as a father to give her the stability and balance that she needs. Heal her wounded heart. Renew her spirit.

And, Lord, let this all be for your glory...that we will raise up a generation that would have been lost, but instead has been found. I pray for all of us, who anticipate the coming weeks and months with mixed emotions, to rise up in joy and be lead forth in peace. Bind our hearts together, Lord, despite my mistakes and weaknesses. Knit us so closely that we cannot imagine life without her. Keep the enemy and his lies a hedge of angels around us as we journey home and help her settle into her new life. We can't do this without you.


  1. I'm glad you shared.

    Parenting, in any form, is hard. We are in a bit of phase where I think it gets harder every day. There are times when it is a disservice to not share the hard parts, because then it lets the enemy convince us that we are the only ones that have hard days and we must be failures. When, in fact, we are utterly normal.

    Even though this was a few weeks ago now - prayers still sent your way!!

  2. Although we didn't adopt our children internationally and we adopted them as happy, healthy infants, there's this moment of fatigue when you're on that third kid when you're beyond yourself and wonder what you've gotten yourself into! I remember turning to my husband with number 3 and bursting into tears and telling him that I was afraid that baby was a mistake and that I was regretting her adoption.

    Fortunately it was just a feeling, and fleeting at that. Perhaps you're right... that it's the evil one trying to fight adoption! And we love number 3 so much and can't imagine life without her. She's a miracle.

  3. I can understand what you've shared. I think you and Tiffini (Sniz' sis) could be a wonderful support system for each other, as you traveled to the same country and have yielded to God's leading in the midst of the challenges that came with that yielding.

    Dear friend, your transparency and your example of faith and prayer are so very encouraging to me. Please know I am praying for you and your whole family during this time of bonding and adjustment. I took 3 weeks off from homeschooling when Brandon suddenly joined us. You take the time you need as well. It's not that difficult to make up days in the summer as "day at a time." THANK YOU for sharing the whole story, both blessings and challenges.

  4. thank you for sharing ...i'll be praying for you and it will help me pray for my brother and his wife too.

  5. Toni,
    Thank you so much. In fact, thank you to all of you. It is such a blessing to know that you are praying! I LOVE what God is doing through the BODY. It is incredible!


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