Friday, February 26, 2010

GriefStorm Part 2

This was Emmy, crying and crying and crying herself to sleep last night.

She wants to believe her African mother is still alive and we can go back to find her and bring her to America. If I didn't think it would create even more issues later on, I would be fine letting Emmy believe her mother is still alive. We finally talked her back down to the point where she acknowledged her African mother is not alive.

At that point, she suddenly turned on us, sobbing bitterly, and angrily accusing us of not doing enough to save her mother. Why didn't we bring medicine to the mother? Why didn't we pay for her doctor? Why didn't we bring her to America to get healthy?

Aye aye aye.

Still puzzling over why this is happening now, and with such frequency, and with such raw emotion, we called our friends the O'Connors. They suggested two theories..........

1. February is the third anniversary of the adoption. Jeff said all their kids got depressed or homesick around their anniversaries. I asked "How do they know? We don't celebrate the anniversary. We don't even acknowledge it in front of the kids." Jeff said they just know. Maybe they recognize the season or something, but they just know.

2. Eyob. At our house we talk a lot about the O'Connors pending adoption of Eyob and one the reasons for that adoption is to get a lot of medical attention for Eyob. Emmy, listening to that story as often as she has, probably wonders why the same effort was not made for her Mother, and the fact that it wasn't strikes Emmy as frustrating and profoundly unfair.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Don't know what triggered this - maybe a dream or something - but the girls were in full blown grieving this morning. Bodies shaking with sobs, contorted facial expressions, flailing limbs, ear splitting wailing, pillows soaked with tears, inconsolably begging to see and hold their Ethiopian parents. I'll tell you what, I am having a hard time coming up with words or analogies to describe the shock value of such an emotional display and the helplessness that we, as parents, were feeling.

When we finally got them calm enough so we could reason with them, we told the kids we would take them to their parents grave to spend time with them. (readers of the blog know we had a stone carved for the girls' parents and placed in Leo's family plot)

So this afternoon, I took the kids to the graveyard. The kids can find their parents' stone by themselves now because they recognize some of the names on nearby stones.

Marin stared at the stone for a few minutes and read it out loud to me. Then Marin said "I think I feel my mother here". I said "Marin, if you feel her here, then talk to her. I'll stand over there and give you privacy."

Marin kneeled in the grass and bent over to kiss her mothers' name on the stone. Then she said, in the sweetest sounding voice, the kind of voice used when people see someone they really loved for the first time after a long absence and they aren't really certain how the other person is going to respond. "Hi Mama. This is Marin. I want you to know I am having a good life in America. Emmy too. I hope you are having a good life in heaven. I miss you. This man behind me name is Leo. He is my new Daddy. He is doing a good job. He treats me and Emmy good. I love you and I miss you. From Marin."

Then she bent over and kissed the stone again, and we left.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Adults are Coming!!

Emmy needed a neck and throat Xray. Turns out we know the Xray technician, and it was a slow time of day, so she let me and Emmy come back to see Emmy's xrays on the computer screen. It was fascinating to show Emmy her skull, neck, collarbone, ribs, etc. in the photo and then trace her finger along the bone through her skin so she could feel the bones she was looking at. While showing Emmy her teeth, I saw this second row of teeth directly underneath them. I said "Emmy, look, these are your grown up teeth getting ready to push your baby teeth out of the way. Wow. Look how close they are. I'll bet you start losing some teeth soon." Emmy was speechless.

When we got in the car, Emmy wanted to call Mama and tell her all about the xrays. She was so excited, all she could say was "The adults are coming. The adults are coming. The adults are coming!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Last weekend we entertained the family of one of Marin's classmates. They are interacial - the wife white american and the husband cambodian. The wife was particularly interested in Marin and Emmy's story - down to the details.

As we were talking about the severe malnutrition and the fact we left an older sister behind, the husband started crying. I was a little surprised and uncomfortable and tried to look away. The wife was consoling him and telling him it would be OK. The husband continued sobbing and excused himself from the room.

I looked at the wife as if to say "What was that all about?" Turns out the husband lived his very early years the same way Marin and Emmy did, just working for food and looking for food. Then he spent several years in a refugee camp where he lost two siblings to starvation. The story of our kids brought all those memories right back to life for him. When we realized what was happening, we almost started crying, too. It was heartbreaking to see a man get transported back decades in time to a living hell right before your eyes, and it is heartbreaking to see the first evidence we have seen that our kids may never outgrow the hardships they survived.

Eff Bomb

So Marin finally heard it on the playground at school last week. She comes home, sits quietly at the table coloring, then looks up to address Colleen.

Marin: (tentatively) Mom, what is fuck?
Colleen: What?
Marin: (cautious and puzzled) I heard a new word on the playground today. Fuck. What does that mean?
Colleen: (cool as a cucumber) What do you think it means?
Marin: I think it means run as fast as you can. But I'm not sure because the playground lady said it is a bad word.
Colleen: Why do you think it means run as fast as you can?
Marin: Because when the boys say it, they are doing something naughty, then the say 'Let's get the fuck out of here', then they run away as fast as they can.