Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Perspective

Hustle and Bustle stores filled with toys
Jingle and Jangle heads filled with noise

House drowning in tissue, lights which don't work
Flour spread countertops 'til you might go bizerk

Page upon page of not to miss sales
Card upon card to be signed, sealed and mailed

Hustle and Bustle life filled with stress
Jingle and jangle house filled with mess

Music floating sweetly on air
Excitement of children almost too much to bear

Kindess in strangers, purple at mass
Evergreen smell, balls made of glass

Hustle and Bustle children's delight
Jingle and Janlge O HOly Night

Mess is replaced with a festive feel
House as home seems somehow more real

Finding the gift that says "You are dear"
Memories of friends who we write once a year

Hustle and Bustle a fire's red glow
Jingle and Jangle warm feelings flow

It's all how we see things, it's all how they sound
A time of annoyance or something profound

A time to reflect on troubles and pain
Or a time to be thankful and give it a name

Hustle and Bustle a world filled with joy
Jingle and Jangle for one divine boy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some Rules, not so Dumb

The adoption process is a long and arduous one. You start with a Home Study which requires a social worker to come into your home. This is frustrating as no Home Study is required to give birth. The biggest joke in ours was the fire extinguisher. We were required to have one. I told my Social Worker the first time around that I had chosen not to have a fire extinguisher. "Looks too much like a gun; two boys under six, too tempting." I figured the extinguisher was more dangerous than a fire. But we got one for the inspection and then promptly returned it to its rightful owner. Rules are rules, you know.

You are also required to take classes. This was incredibly painful for me as they were DVD's. I will read anything, I have read everything sent to me at least once. But to find time to watch TV was another story. We keep our TV on top of the kitchen cabinets during the week; four kids under ten, too tempting. But I left the TV out and watched the series and took the online test. Rules are Rules.

Doctor's check ups, finger prints, family history, notarized letters of recommendation: the list goes on and on of the things you are required to submit. I don't make the rules, I just follow them.

We received an e-mail this week reminding all families adopting from Ethiopia of the rules for giving money to in-country staff of our agency and to birth relatives. The rule is YOU DON'T; not in country and not after you return home.

It sounds like a harsh rule. How do you meet someone face to face that you could help with a bit of cash and keep your wallet in your pocket? How do you not feel so ungrateful and stingy walking away from a meeting with the woman who gave birth to your child and then selflesssly gave him up so he could have a better life leaving her with nothing?

You do it because poverty can breed evil just as easily as wealth. You follow the rules because not much to you is a lot to someone who is poor. You do it because you are not buying a child.

Think of what could happen if it got out in the villages and towns that so and so became rich (by Ethiopian standards) giving her child up for adoption. Think about the pressure that could come to bear on a mother struggling to survive knowing she could provide for her other children by giving up one. Talk about too tempting!

Some rules are worth following. It doesn't mean you can't do anything. You can give to charitable organizations working in the community. You can sponsor a child or support a local school. You don't have to keep your wallet in your pocket.

But to do anything that resembles or can be construed by others as buying children can never be good. Nothing good can come from it. In trying to help, you could be come an unwilling participant in the greatest temptation someone could ever face.

Some rules, not so dumb.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Moon is Always Watching

In Ethiopia, unlike many international adoptions, it is very likely that you will have the opportunity to meet a birth family member of your child. The child is unable to accompany you on this visit. For this reason, I was hesitant to go if a family member was even available and willing to meet me. I couldn't imagine leaving my son even for a moment after I am finally united with him. I posed the question to those who have gone before me.

Many on my adoption blog shared beautiful stories of the encounters they had, the stories and histories they learned. One told of how she and the birth mother agreed to look at the moon to know that they were thinking of one another. It was this touching story which inspired the following:

The Moon is Always Watching

Momma First leans against the lean trunk of the acacia tree. She can hear the soft song of the owls. Night is almost gone. She stares up toward the vast starry African sky. But she is not looking at the stars. She is looking at the moon.

The moon is watching and he is smiling.

Momma Forever sits on a white painted porch in the comfortable swing. Back and Forth Back and Forth. The street lights pop on across the road. But she is not looking at he lights. She is looking at the moon.

The moon is watching and he is smiling.

Malia lays in the lap of Momma Forever who strokes her curly black hair with long ivory fingers. Fire flies dance in the yard. But she is not looking at the fire flies, she is looking at the moon.

The moon is watching and he is smiling.

Kede is sitting on the floor making his cars go round and round with a rrrr and a vrrroom. He drives them over Momma Forever's foot and laughs. Head lights of an approaching car illuminate the pavement. But he is not looking at the pavement, he is looking at the moon.

The moon is watching and he is smiling.

Daddy comes to the door, it is time for sleep.

Kede gathers his little cars in his chubby brown hands. Malia pulls her tight curls back into a pony tail. Momma Forever smooths her skirt and stands. Daddy holds the door open and gathers his family into their home.

In Africa far across the sea, Momma First whispers to the moon, "Watch my babies while they sleep."

And the moon nods.

In the quiet American town, as Daddy closes the door, all turn to for one last look. It is Malia's turn, and so she softly whispers to the moon, "Watch Momma First for us today."

And the moon nods.

For he is the same moon and he is always watching, and he is smiling.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yes, Edward, There is a Santa Clause

I find it incredibly annoying to have my children reading over my shoulder while I write, but I guess, just this once, it is okay...

What I must write first might be hard for a child to hear from his parent. It is: I don't have all the answers.

I don't know how it works or who exactly he is. Is he really St. Nicholas, or do they just share a name? Where does he live? How does he circle the world in a night and go up and down the chimney? How do the reindeer fly? Like you, I have heard the theories: He makes time stand still, "laying a finger aside of his nose", The North Pole. But these are just theories I can not prove. Like why the earth circles the sun and the moon circles the earth. I know something of the theory of gravitational force, but that really isn't much of an answer.

I just don't know how it all works. I am sorry, I can't give you more.

But knowing how isn't really the most important thing. I do know why. I know why this man has been given such magical power. I know what he stands for if I do not know how he manages it. I know he travels the world in a single night to show us the love of Baby Jesus. I know he defies laws of time and space in order to show us just what is possible. I know magic exists in the world.

Love is magical, my child. I don't know how it works either, really. I do not know how I love you so much or how daddy loves me. I just know it is true. I know love can defy the laws of time and space; I know my daddy still loves me. It can create something out of nothing. It makes the impossible possible.

So Yes, Edward, there is a Santa Clause. As sure as the earth circles the sun, there is magic in the world. And no matter how old we get, we must never forget that. If there is love in the world, there is magic too. And so I will never say, even at thirty-nine years old, that what Santa Clause does is impossible.

Who would have ever believed that a man could land on the moon, that bread and wine could become the body and blood of Christ, that we could send sound through a wire? You and me, that's who.

So, if you are asked or if you are wondering, "How is it possible?" Your answer should always be, "Only a fool would say 'It is Impossible.'"

Monday, November 2, 2009

On Being Stubborn

Being stubborn can be a good thing. "Just Say no." requires a bit of a stubborn streak, doesn't it? Those terrible two's, which are the height of Stubborn, leave us in awe of our little precious who is emerging as a person all his own. In many ways, stubborn requires conviction. It means we find something important enough to take a stand.

So why does being stubborn get such a bad rap? I mean, the stubborn animal is the jack ass right? That can't be sending a positive message. No one really takes it as a compliment when they are told how incredibly obstinate they are being, do they?

Stubborn actually has two definitions: unreasonably unyielding AND justifiably unyielding. I am guessing it is the first definition that leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth. But at the end of the day, being unyielding is being stubborn, and unless you are two or being offered drugs, it really isn't such a good thing is it?

We have all heard the stories of the friends who have not spoken for sixty years. It has been so long since the supposed slight, neither remembers why they are mad. They only KNOW it was the other's fault.

We shake our heads in pity at the lost years, the pettiness, the ridiculousness of it all. But how often have we dug in our heals and waited? Maybe it has only been a week or a month, not sixty years, but is that because we were just lucky enough not to be mad at someone as stubborn as we?

Justifiably unyielding. Justified in our anger. Justified in our resolution to not be the first to make amends. Justified in our justice. But where does it get us?

The hardest time to swallow our pride and not be stubborn is, in fact, when we are in the right. But does that make it right?

Where would we be if we were always treated with justice? Maybe you are a better person than I, but I wouldn't have gotten very far. I don't deserve most of the good things in my life. I try to be a good wife, mother, sibling, friend. But I do not compare with the blessings I call husband, mother, siblings and friends.

If being unyielding, even justifiably so, means being alone, for a week, a month, sixty years, I am not sure it is worth it. By all means we can require change, reconciliation, truce. But we can not be unyielding. Well, I guess we can be, but should we be?

Life is too short to be stubborn. Like the mule, it is a huge pack of stuff we lug around strapped to our back. To free ourselves from the burden, we must try and forgive. Easier said than done, I know. And even harder when we are in the right. But if we are not willing to yield, do we win? Or does everybody lose?