Monday, January 29, 2007

Movin’ On Up!

Exciting news for others in adoption land—two referrals from our agency today, and a total of four in the last week! Three of them have been on the smaller online forum on which most people are using our agency. With not one but two infant referrals today, there are only two or three people/couples waiting for infants who are “ahead of us” on that group (although I’m sure there are numerous others with our agency who are not on that group). We are moving up the wait list just by being on it!

I can’t explain how good it feels to hear of these referrals and see their beautiful pictures. Not only does it feel like we’re getting closer, but I’m starting to get to “know” these people a bit (although I do sometimes think of them as my “imaginary friends”). I guess we all live vicariously through each other. It would be so nice to travel at the same time as someone from the group.

The two who got referrals today had waited about four months; the one last week waited six. The six was somewhat discouraging; the four gives me hope. At least twice a day I calculate on the calendar how many weeks we’ll have been waiting by March, April, May, let’s-not-think-about-it. We would so like to travel by June—earlier if possible so we could make Justin’s wedding in GR, but at least early enough for Aaron to go to Young Life camp in July. If he can’t go, we have no experienced male leader to go! We really don’t know what we’ll do, but God must have a plan, because he sure keeps sending lots of kids to Club.

Stacie is confident that we’ll have our baby in May. We were just hoping to have a referral by then, but hey, we’ll happily have our baby! Anyone else out there with the gift of faith and prayer wanna get on that? I’m praying, but I only have faith every other day or so. It’s not just a selfish prayer for me . . . no, really . . . it’s for the YL kids and all the other waiting families too . . . really!

Okay, it’s mostly selfish.

And I’m so selfish I don’t even care!

EDIT 1/31: ANOTHER referral today! Unbelievable!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tonight they're gonna Timkat like it's 1999.

We have been officially waiting for referral (to be matched with our child) for 4 weeks. Are we 1/5 of the way there? It has been a fast four weeks but I have still been pretty easily distracted by anything baby-related that crosses my path or jumps into my mind. And it's not because I'm not busy!

Today was the final day of the Timkat celebration in Ethiopia. Timkat is a bigger celebration there than Christmas. It is what we'd call Epiphany, though in the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition it has a strong emphasis on the Ark of the Covenant, which is said to be preserved in Ethiopia, and on Jesus's baptism. Priests dressed in rich robes carrying fantastic umbrellas process with replicas of fragments of the Law called Tabots from churches to a pool or other body of water. The Tabots are blessed and the crowds are sprinkled with water or sometimes dive into the pool as they renew their religious commitments.

You can read about Ethiopian festivals including Timket here:

View some beautiful pictures here--you have to see the umbrellas, I tell you!
(also interesting descriptions here)

By the way, if you're wondering how the Twelfth Day of Christmas can be on January 19 (and not a partridge in sight), remember that Ethiopia uses a different calendar than the Western world. The Orthodox Christmas was January 7. They have 13 months--a tourism slogan is "13 Months of Sunshine"--and the year 1999 started on our September 11, 2006. That's right, you can still celebrate Timkat like it's 1999!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Thinking about Being Thought About

We had dinner at the Drift the other night and for some reason there were at least 3 couples with kids under 1 or 2 years old there. Don't ask me where they all came from! I could sense as I tried to stare at all the babies without looking like I was staring at all the babies (something I do a lot more these days than I used to) that I wasn't the only one; cute babies always attract attention. Then I thought, We are going to get so much attention! I have been expecting that since the beginning, of course, and have heard many stories from other transracial adoptive parents. But for some reason it really struck me that if all of us in the restaurant were ogling those cuties who matched their parents, we are really going to get it with our baby.

Normally I visualize this in situations where I'm comfortable with it--in church, at the basketball game--where enough people know us that after one appearance everyone will know where our baby came from and move beyond questioning to enjoying having a new kid that everyone knows around to admire. For some reason, though, it struck me differently the other night to realize how the normal attention may be magnified. I guess we will find out to what extent I'm right and how it feels when the time comes. (Perhaps if they ask me who's the father I'll say, "Denzel Washington.")

I realize that the article I linked to in yesterday's post was probably a bit academic for some of you (since most of you are, fortunately, less nerdy than me). Here's the short form, what I realized belongs on the list: I have the white privilege of walking into any restaurant on the coast without attracting any attention because of my race. If I had a white baby I would have the privilege of being able to assume any attention I attract is because people are looking at my baby and most likely admiring him/her--without ever having to wonder if it's because of my baby's race or what people are thinking about my child. My child will never have the privilege of blending in as I do in the places I do.

And, due to the added dimension of transracial adoption, we will never have the privilege of not attracting attention or having to answer questions about our family or dealing with unsolicited opinions about who should adopt whom of what color and from where. In a sense by becoming a "conspicuous family" we are voluntarily giving up a few small, small pieces of our privilege.

In exchange for something far greater.

Which is our privilege!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Have a Dream Today.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr Day. School was closed for the day here, which seems like kind of a joke considering the overall whiteness around here, but I'm sure the two black kids appreciated it (ha ha). But actually, don't we who are less integrated need the reminder more? I confess that although I admire MLK more all the time and have always been interested in civil rights history, MLK Day never seemed like much of a holiday. What does it really mean to someone like me, in my circumstances and with all my privilege? But again, that's why I need it: to remember, and to look ahead. It means more to me all the time and I know it will mean more to me in the future. And that's a good thing, because it's not a good thing to "be able to" ignore issues of race and rights and pretend we're "colorblind"--it's been my loss, not my privilege, for too long. We think MLK Day is for minorities, but they don't need the reminder of where we've come from and how far we have to go--they feel it all the time--we who are in the majority are the ones who need to be more conscious. I am happy to be waking up more and more.

Erin put it well on the Transracial Adoption Blog: "Forty years ago, blacks and whites could not use the same water fountains or restrooms, and today they can be members of the same family."

So does that mean we have come so far, or do we still have so far to go? Do you think people of different races answer that differently? I'd wager yes; as whites we tend to think if we're not telling racist jokes we're doing pretty good. But that doesn't mean racism is gone. Racism is an imbalance of social power, and we are still on the powerful end of that. Thanks to my favorite sociology major, here is a thought-provoking article on "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Napsack."

Read and watch King's "I Have a Dream" speech here. Don't just read the end. Consider it all.

In light of those, I think we still have a long way to go . . . but for my child and all God's children, I have a dream today.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

All of this for . . . ?

"By April 15, 2006, the U.S. government had spent, according to congressional appropriations, $275 billion on the war in Iraq. According to the National Priorities Project, worldwide AIDS programs could have been completely funded for twenty-seven years with that amount of funding."

Melissa Fay Greene, There Is No Me Without You
The cost of war will soon be $358 billion, and all that I have rendered unto Caesar has failed to provide access to lifesaving health care for dying children nor any of the 358 billion other things I'd rather have purchased with that money.

I'm irritated today because the government and I are so much alike: having so much, spending so quickly, yet always seeming to need more. When will I learn? When will it end?

Can’t bear the news in the evening
We’re going to bed and we're going to war
All of this for
Anyone’s guess . . .
If we forget anything
Heaven forbid someone would remind us . . .

Over the Rhine, "Remind Us"

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Don't Give Up Africa

People of the world . . . don't give up Africa.

Don't give up, Africa.

Merry Christmas, Ethiopia.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Officially Waiting/Showered

This update is officially overdue, but there was holiday fun to be had, and it was good to the last drop. Since we last left our paperwork . . .

  • the agency reviewed our dossier and declared us able to follow instructions (everything was done right)
  • two papers traveled to Washington, DC, for federal authentication, and back
  • our dossier left Portland on December 19 and arrived in Ethiopia on the 22nd!

That means that as of the 22nd we are officially waiting (yaaaay!). Unfortunately, we will probably be waiting for 4 or 5 months (booooo!). I hope it’s not longer, but it could be. When we turned in our papers I actually felt a day of a post-dossier letdown: grumpy that the wait times have increased so much and knowing we can’t do anything about anything from here on. But we have so much to do before our baby comes and we live a pretty busy life anyway that I hope the time will pass quickly. Yeah . . . check back with me on that one in May. You just might want to make sure I’m unarmed first.

The preparations have begun, though, in small ways. Since my mom is already about ready to explode with grandmotherliness, she and Beka arranged a baby shower for us while we were visiting in Michigan. I thought people might not be able to make it at Christmastime or find it weird with no “due date” in sight, but it was a packed house! Truly the best gift was having all those friends and family there. But we also received wise and hilarious parenting advice, cute and useful baby gear (small items we could bring home, and my brother and sister-in-law had a baby swing shipped), and gift cards to buy baby stuff at Target. (Mmm, I love Target—Mom and I also had a good time zapping baby gear with the registry gun.) Thank you, friends!

Just because we’re done with paperwork doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing, so check back soon for blogs on our Ethiopian food experience, hints on name choices, musings on motherhood, and more.