Saturday, May 20, 2006

I Remember the First Time...

A great advantage to adopting an older child is that the family gets to watch their newest addition experience all kinds of new things.

During our layover in D.C. from Addis, my mom, Tekle, and I went to the bathroom to brush our teeth and put on a clean pair of clothes. I will never forget the excitement in Tekle's eyes as he tried out the hand dryers and automatic faucets. He was fascinated!! On that same layover, Tekle took his first bite of ice cream. He had seen it in pictures and told us matter-of-factly that "I is for Icecream". However, there was a look of shock on his face after the first bite--IT WAS COLD! He was not expecting it to be cold and was hesitant to taste it again. However, in the end he not only finished his cup, but gleefully scarfed down mine as well!

Since arriving home Tekle has been introduced to lots more...The light rail, the mall, Target, hockey, the dentist, and Roller Coaster Tycoon, to name a few.

Tonight Tekle and Aaron were shown sparklers for the first time! They were intrigued.




Oh, and my brother Isaac had them model do-rags for the first time tonight too :)



I love my little bros!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bein' SILLY!



















There are a couple things our family is known for...


One is that we are ALWAYS LATE! As you can imagine, there's a lot of kids to wake up, hairstyles to fix, socks to match (which rarely happens by the way), shoes to find, and emergency spills to clean up in the mornings at our house. A friend of my mom's from church said the other day: "I was so worried about being late today, but then I consoled myself with the fact that you guys would be later!"

Another thing we tend to do around here is act GOOFY. We make lots of jokes, have lots of laughs, and do some pretty crazy things. The kids love to create "rides" and other forms of amusement from everyday items. Laundry baskets are a favorite. They've been known to ride down the steps in them, stick a smaller kid in one and proceed to spin it around the living room, and in the winter--attatch a string and pull it down a hill in the snow. Not to mention the (oh so wrong but oh so hilarious) "YO MAMA" battles Isaac, Janaya, and Lacy are into.

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My mom's favorite line from a mother's day card is "We put the FUN in dysfunctional"

We have actually found being silly to be an excellent attatchment activity. In Ethiopia last December, my mom and I were trying to explain what 'boy' and 'girl' meant in English to Tekle. Pointing at each of us as she spoke, my mom said "see, Kelsey is a girl, Tekle is a boy, and mommy is a-" then Tekle interrupted her with "DINOSAUR!" (a word he had learned from watching Barney over and over again at the care center!).We all started cracking up
He was pretty proud of his joke! Humor is universal and seems to help break down the walls people have. I know it helped Tekle to feel comfortable and identify with us faster.



Ha ha and my group of friends is pretty crazy too...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Making the Connection


It is very important in our family that everyone has opportunities to connect with different aspects of their background/culture/heritage etc...

It has been relatively easy to make those connections for my AA siblings. We live in a very diverse city with many resources. Our church is a blessing as many adoptive, bi-racial, transracial, and AA families attend. We have many books, cd's, and movies that feature strong AA characters. Most importantly, my parents have helped create an environment where our family is surrounded by positive AA role models and mentors. Everyone in my family plays/has played/will play for an awesome inner-city hockey team. Our team's players are predominantly AA, Mexican, and Asian. The coaching staff is also very diverse and made up of strong Christian mentors. These coaches dedicate so much of themselves to helping the players grow academically, physically, and spiritually. They are advocates and tutors for the players in school, motivators and encouragers on the ice, and teachers and counselors 24/7. Summer camp, Bible study, NHL games, skiing trips, and Bible Study are all included in our hockey program :)

It's been a bit more challenging to make those same connections for my Ethiopian brothers. After traveling to Ethiopia and experiencing first-hand the richness and beauty of the culture, I decided I will do everything I can to instill Ethiopian pride and knowledge into Tekle and Aaron.



We have a great Ethiopian music collection for the boys. We were given several cd's that the boys were familiar with from the care center before we came home. Tekle has especially appreciated this. Last night I put in a cd from the care center that we haven't listened to in awhile and he got so excited..."Kels! Where did you get this? This is my favorite!!)

I also found a really fun/child-friendly cd online called Sorene: Children's Songs from Ethiopia (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00002414D/104-7820917-5337560)

We also have beautiful Ethiopian artwork in our house, and many MANY souvenirs from the trip. I believe this is important as it shows we embrace and admire their culture.

The area where we are struggling to make connections is perhaps the most important: MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS. There is a large Ethiopian Community around here, but we aren't quite sure how to access it. One cool advantage is that my school is the center for Amharic (language spoken by many Ethiopians). This means I have friends in every class who speak the same language and share the same heritage as Tekle and Aaron. My friends have been very helpful throughout this whole process. I met two girls after they overheard me talking about my upcoming trip. They were so excited
and offered to make food and help translate for Tekle when he came home. Another friend translated a letter I sent to our sponsor girl who lives at AHOPE orphanage (http://www.ahopeforchildren.org) in Addis.
It is very helpful for us to have someone to ask when we have questions. The other day Tekle was talking about a song they sing in Ethiopia when a kid loses a tooth. He was so frustrated because he could not remember the tune. I decided to call my friend Yebralem, and she sang the song over the phone for him!!!

I'm hoping that we will find a family for the boys to see on regular basis. Though Aaron and Tekle get to hang out once a month with lots of other children who were adopted from Ethiopia through a cool program called Ethiopian Kids Community, I think it's equally important to connect with Ethiopian families. So we're working on that!

Last but certainly not least...FOOD!! Tekle finds so much comfort in his injera. There is an Ethiopian restaurant about 5 mins from our house, and he LOVES it. We also buy injera at our local Cub store. It's not as good as the restaurant but Tekle still likes it. We found out tonight that Aaron loves injera too! As a baby, he didn't eat it very many times in Ethiopia, but apparently it was enough to get him hooked. Everytime he took a bite he would grin and cheer!

Whew! This is a long blog.

Oh yeah... and we haven't been able to find many children's books specifically about Ethiopia. Anyone know of a good one??

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mothers Day!!

Since tomorrow is Mother's Day, I figured it was only appropriate that I post about my AMAZING mom!

I love and admire my mom so much. She is a model of the person that I would like to be. My mom has dedicated her life to serving Jesus and being there 100% for her family. She makes it clear how treasured each of her children are and is sure to spend lots of 1-on-1 time with everyone.

She encourages my dreams, reassures me when I'm scared, and exhibits unconditional love in all that she does.

Thanks mom!!!





Friday, May 12, 2006

Things That Shouldn't be Said...

It never fails to amaze me how insensitive people can be. I've have heard so many stories where strangers, close friends, and even family members have made hurtful and discriminatory comments towards transracial/adoptive families. Our family has definetly received our share of these...

I've heard:

"Is he your real brother?"
YES, every one of by siblings is my REAL brother/sister. When most people ask that, I think what they are trying to ask is whether or not he is my biological sibling. It is important to be aware of what the word "real" implies to the adopted child. Are they less of a part of our family because they arent biological??? Of course the answer to that is an emphatic NO.

"What about his real mom?"

First of all, that is a very personal question. His family history belongs to him, and its his story to tell if and when he wants to tell it. And here we go with the "real" word again. Yes his birth mom is very real, but so is his adoptive mom. Referring to his birth mom as his real mom devalues the role of adoptive parents.

"Make sure he doesnt have AIDS before you bring him here"
My math teacher, Mrs. Joy, said that to me last year when I told her we would soon be bringing Aaron home. That is definitely the worst of any comments/questions Ive heard. She didnt understand that this was MY BROTHER. A living, breathing, little baby. Nothing in the world could have stopped us from bringing him home. If we had found out he had any medical conditions, we would have done everything in our power to get him the help he deserved. If he did have AIDS, would that mean he didn't have the right to a loving home and a family? My brother is not a product. We would never "exchange" him for another baby. I wish I could have explained this to Mrs. Joy. However, I was speechless, and the comment didnt fully register until later.

"If that's your brother, why is he black?"
Sadly, I've heard this comment more times than I can count. When my 14 year old brother shadowed me to see what high school was like, I was asked this question repeatedly throughout the day. I could tell it made Isaac feel uncomfortable, and I was tempted to respond: "Well, you know how it's possible for two black people to have albino babies? The same thing happened with my parents, it just had the opposite effect!!" hee hee. I decided not to be so sarcastic though...

"Do you ever get sick of having all those adopted brothers and sisters?"
My first response to this question was a simple WHAT???? Why did the word "adopted" even need to be placed in that sentence? Of course my brothers and sisters annoy me at times, whose dont? But that has nothing to do with the fact that they are adopted. I dont love them any more or any less than my biological brothers.

Through adoption Ive been able to broaden my horizons, learn about other cultures, travel to Ethiopia, and experience the love of five amazing kids. Adoption is not "rescuing an orphan". Adoption creates families. REAL families.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Welcome!

Hello!

My name is Kelsey, and I'm a junior in highschool. I am a sister to seven siblings, five of which became a part of our family through adoption. I created this blog in response to questions I've been asked regarding large families and adoption. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around, and I'm hoping a little glimpse into our daily life as a large, Christian, transracial family, will help clear a few things up. I'm planning on asking my siblings to contribute entries from the unique perspective of an adoptee. I look forward to sharing travel stories, resources, FAQ's, and speculations with you all.

Pictured Below:
Tekle age 4 --home forever from Ethiopia on Dec. 10, 2005--posing near the lake
Janaya age 12--the cute one looking like she should be in an ipod commercial
Aaron Tariku 18 months --home forever from Ethiopia in May of 2005--the sweetest little toddler around!
Lacy age 8 --Black shirt and "I'm too cool for pictures" look on her face ;)



Peter age 22 (today!)-- --he's wearing the blue striped shirt
Jesse age 20 ----wearing the gray shirt
Isaac age 14 ----wearing the blue Nike shirt
and myself in the black t-shirt