Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Zene and Janaya's Water Fight in Ethiopia

Sarah asked if Zene made it home for Christmas and I thought I'd answer that here since others may be wondering too! Unfortunately, she was not here for Christmas. My Mom ran into some issues in ET (incorrect information from the embassy) and had to come back without Zene. Thankfully we were able to resolve things and just a few days later my Dad went back to ET and brought her home. It was stressful and quite the emotional roller coaster, but it makes us even more grateful to have her here in our arms!

Here is a cute video Janaya recorded while they were in ET--isn't Zene's giggle the BEST??
Warning: if you are prone to motion sickness you may want to refrain from watching this video--there is lots of camera movement!

Monday, December 29, 2008

First Days Together



Here is Zeni being introduced to the snow. She's smiling in the picture but screamed when Jesse had her touch it. She's not a big fan yet :)



Zenebech LOVES pictures of herself! She was so excited to find a bunch of her pics all over the house and she kept giving them kisses. I've also figured out that if I show her her reflection in the mirror while she's crying, she will forget whatever she's crying about and flash her gorgeous smile!






Aren't I lucky to have so much "help" on the computer??



Zeni LOVES, LOVES, LOVES, her "babies". She lines them all up on the floor just like they do at her orphanage, and then takes turns loving on each one. She'll pick one up, rock it for a second, speak some soft words to it, then set it down and do the same with the next baby in line. She also brings bottles around and makes sure they all get fed. She has clearly observed the care-givers at KM very carefully.



Silly faces!




Aaron is doing amazingly well with losing his place as the youngest kid. He is very sweet with Zeni. When she cries he insightfully suggests things like "I think she's missing Ethiopia". He did however ask the same question Jesse asked my mom when I was born:
"Can you return kids?". Actually I think Jesse's exact question was "Did you save the receipt?" He thought my Mom could just bring me back to the hospital...



He is regressing a lit bit by using "baby-talk" and wanting to be held a lot. He also seems to be trying to be as cute as possible to make sure we don't forget about him--nothing overwhelming or annoying, just excesively sweet. I'm trying to spend some time with just him (Bingo was a hit today) and make sure I'm giving him lots of attention, but I think I can do better. Today he told my mom "Mommy, I want to cuddle!" haha. I LOVE that kid so much and am so proud that he is such an awesome big brother.

And we are all just so HAPPY to have our sweet girl home!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Personality



In all the descriptions of Zene that we received, there were two words that seemed to be the common denominators:

1.Sweet
2.Quiet

According to my Mom, number one is super accurate but number two...not so much. Once this girl gets to know you she is LOUD! She was laughing uncontrollably in the background when I talked to my Mom on the phone the other day and SINGING at the top of her lungs. Mom and Janaya have also reported that she is quite the little Diva, especially at her orphanage. I have a feeling she is going to fit in quite well with her other sisters ;)

Her voice is possibly the sweetest thing I've ever heard. My Dad got so choked up the other day because she said "I love you daddy!" on the phone.
I can't wait for her to come home and I can start really discovering what her personality is like (ha I almost wrote 'what her little personality is like' but the word little just doesn't sound like it fits her personality at all!)






Just LOOK at that gorgeous smile!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Racial Hierarchy in the Adoption World


The question was recently brought up on The Albertson's blog on how to respond to the following scenario(copied and pasted from their blog):

"For me, the race question has become very hard to answer. For example, I have many friends who are adopting domestically and internationally. Often they'll say "I'm totally open to most races but I'm not sure about a black baby." Please know that they don't mean any harm. They really don't. As I said, I'm glad they feel safe saying that to me. The problem lies, now, in the fact that my very own son is a "black baby."

We have heard this comment many times before too. I've come to the conclusion that even though these people "mean no harm" the comment does stem from deep seeded racism. Why do they feel more capable of raising a Latino or Asian child than a black child? With either of those ethnic backgrounds the family is going to have a lot of cultural differences that they will need to incorporate into their new lives with their child. Same with adopting a black child. Why do people think it will be more difficult to raise a child with an awareness and pride of their African American or African culture than any other culture? That just proves that they are putting African American and African families in an "other" box, assuming that the lifestyles of those families are vastly different from their own.
If the adoptive family's justification is that they live in a predominantly white neighborhood and don't feel they will be able to adequately expose an AA or African child to their culture, then I think that is an admirable reason and shows that they are truly putting the needs of the child first. Yet I'm curious...do these white neighborhoods have a plethora of Asian and Latino families? Asian and Latino children aren't going to feel any less ostracized just because they "blend in" a little better with their lighter skin. They are going to have the same questions about culture and identity and are inevitably going to struggle with being "different" (even if their community loves and accepts them). Ask any adult adoptee and I'm confident that's what you will hear. Adopting a lighter skinned child may be easier for the adoptive family, but not necessarily for the child.
I literally feel sick to my stomach when I hear that stuff. There is a hierarchy in the world of adoption that is clearly based on skin color. Social workers are well aware of the fact that it is easier to place light-skinned children than dark skinned children. Some parents even say they would accept a biracial child but not a child who is 100% black. How sick is that? I agree that adoptive parents need to be honest with their social workers, but I would prefer if they wouldn't sugar coat it by saying that raising an African American child is something they "just can't handle" and acknowledge the racism that is clearly a part of the decision making process.
That comment reminds me of a boy I met last year who said (paraphrased)"I wouldn't date a black girl.Actually, I'd do black girl but I wouldn't marry her."
When I asked why he responded:
"Cuz I don't want my kids to turn out mixed"
I pretty much snapped at that point and he responded:
"I'm not racist! I would marry a Japanese girl or a Mexican girl, just not a black girl"
The boy saw how angry and disgusted I was and told me:
"If you are going to be mad at me you will have to be mad at lots of people because tons of people have the same opinion".
The tragic thing is that he has a point. Lots of people think that way. But that doesn't make it right. Racism is alive and well in this country and it is so important that we ACKNOWLEDGE it. That we humble ourselves enough to admit that we are guilty of it. Racism does not just come from the rednecks in the South. Plenty of "respectable", "Christian", white families have racist viewpoints, it's just that they tend to be masked with pretty language.
Another justification I hear in regards to this issue is that parents do not feel equipped to help their black children deal with the racism they will likely face. Again, this is something that Asian and Latino children are certainly not immune to! But there is a different history in regards to racism against African Americans in the U.S. and there is a good chance that black children will face more intense discrimination than people from other backgrounds. The reality is however, that whether or not you adopt an African or AA child, the racism you are so afraid of still exists in our country. And it's still wrong. If you are not willing to confront it for your potential child, then I'm guessing you are not willing to confront it at all. I think many white people prefer to pretend racism no longer exists. They claim to be "color-blind" and act shocked whenever a racial hate-crime appears on the news. They don't want to acknowledge their white privilege and can't seem to wrap their minds around the question ofwhy so many African Americans continue to struggle when "things are way different these days". Adopting a black child is scary because it would force you to come face-to-face with the racism in your country, your state, your neighborhood, your family, and yourself.
I DO NOT believe that everybody should adopt an African American or African child. On the contrary,I think that these children deserve to be adopted by parents thrilled with the opportunity to parent them, who are committed to providing them with tons of exposure to their culture and lots of mentors and role models of their own race.
What I DO believe is that the racism behind this hierarchy in the adoption world needs to be acknowledged. I feel like that's the first step towards healing and racial reconciliation. Simply acknowledging that despite 'good-intentions', we are guilty of prejudice is hard but so very important. I grew up in a community where white people were the minority. My church was predominantly African American, my soccer team was predominantly Mexican, and my hockey team was a beautiful blend of many cultures. Even in my family there are more people of color than white people. Where I grew up, racial issues were not swept under the rug. We talked about racial injustices all year round(not just on Martin Luther King day)and human rights were discussed and addressed on a regular basis. Yet despite all of that, I will admit that I am not immune to racist or prejudice thoughts. It is something I continue to fight with and grow from. I'm not sure if it's possible to avoid prejudice completely, regardless of what race you are, but we MUST acknowledge it if we hope to change. We CAN change. I believe in change. But it's going to take some work!! This week I am going to challenge myself to address my own prejudices, and I would love it if you would do the same.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

PICTURES FROM ETHIOPA!!

An adoptive Mom who stayed with Mom, Zene,and Janaya at the guest house just sent me some pics! They all look so HAPPY! Thank you Kathy!!



News from Ethiopia!!

EDITED TO ADD:

I just talked to them on the phone!! Zene SANG to me! And I heard her laugh--she has a super loud, giggly, laugh! And she also said everybody's names in our family :) Oh my word she sounds absolutely PRECIOUS!!! And funny too :)

My mom said they went back to her orphanage yesterday (Kidane) and Zene had brought a sippy cup of water with her and went around to share a drink with all of the kids there. What a sweetheart. Janaya calls her "mini-me" because apparantly she has a mischievious side ;) The whole time I was talking to my mom I could hear her and Janaya laughing, and playing, and singing, and screaming, in the background. It was so fun to hear!



We have finally recieved a nice long email from my Mom in Ethiopia. Ahhh I am SO excited to meet this amazing little girl!!




Here is an excerpt from the email:

You better get used to saying Zenebesh or Zene (say Zeny) because no one says Zena. Zene is adorable she can say everyone's name and point to the pics. She sings the Barney song and abc's and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. She says Tekle right--like an Ethiopian. Aaron better get ready to teach her how to play basketball because right now all she knows is soccer. Hey Jesse--she has a perfect throw in--over her head, feet on the ground. She loves to mix and match so she and Lacy should have lots of fun. Kelsey, you had better practice your Amharic because that is all she speaks!! Singing and dancing are her favorite so she and Isaac have a lot in common. She says Peter so cute with a wonderful little accent. She loves to pick out all of Daddy's pics. All in all she is a perfect "S". I can't wait until you meet her. She is very independent--wants to do everything herself but she is sweet and will share so nicely with her friends back at Kidane. The sisters are so nice--I like them a lot. I miss you all so much!

Mom


Meanwhile, back on the homefront we are continuing to do our best at keeping the kids entertained. Friday night we went to a parade downtown and the kids absolutely LOVED it. Tekle said that Downtown is the coolest place in the whole wide world. I guess we haven't been down there at night in awhile, so the tall buildings all lit up were quite the sight.



Last night Dad went to a Christmas party with some friends from church and the kids and I hung out at home. Isaac's friend brought over dinner for everyone (thanks Mari!), and we made chocolate covered pretzels for desert. That was an extremely messy little project and I still am wondering what I was thinking doing it after bathtime, but the boys had fun getting all full of chocolate. Tekle said "This is my dream!". haha.



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Operation-Distract-the-Kids-From-the-Fact-that-Mom's-Not-Here-Has Begun!

Ok I think we need an acronym for this operation. But ODTKFTFTMNH is too long. How about just Operation Distract Kids? ODK :)

The little boy I tutor (Edward) and two other Dinomights named Cornelius and Pierre came over to my parents for a pizza party with my siblings. My Dad taught everyone how to make homemade pizzas and everyone did such a good job sharing ingredients and being creative with their pizzas. We also made little frosted Christmas trees out of icecream cones, frosting, candy, and fruitloops for desert (Thanks Angela for the idea!)







Edward about to take a bite of his tree!



Aaron's super genuine smile---NOT.



The highlight of the evening though was the dance party. It is pretty common for my siblings to blast music and break out into dance competitions, and I loved how the 3 Dinomight boys just jumped right in :) If the videos cooperate with me I will add them to this post later!

Shh don't tell, but the boys also had lots of fun testing out Zena's doll house. Tekle said "just pretend everything's not pink and purple" :)

At the end of the night Lacy said "Those were some really sweet boys you brought over, you should invite them over again soon!". She was so cute helping everybody with their Christmas trees, and cheering them on during the dance competition. From the way she interacts with kids I think she would be an amazing teacher someday (or something along those lines). Lacy has strong leadership qualities and it's always so beautiful when she decides to use them to do something nice for somebody else.

I will post news about Zena when we get some, but we aren't getting many details from my Mom and Janaya other than "Zena is wonderful". Uhh well we already knew that! Elaborate a bit please guys...geesh.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

And they're off!!!



Soon I will be able to see this sweet face in person! Mom and Janaya left today for Washington D.C. and tomorrow they will be on the plane headed to Ethiopia!
We are soo ready for Zena to be HOME.
Here is her room:



A close-up of her little angels



Her dollhouse (she likes dolls and balls, remember?)



Her clothes before they were packed into a suitcase



Her hat and mittens since the poor thing is going to be thrown into a world of cold and snow!



And our princess album full of over-analyzed pictures that we recieved during this process--if you're part of an adoptive family you know how the desperation for any ounce of imformation about your child leads to endless hours of analyzing their pictures during the wait :) There are lots of blank pages waiting to be filled with pictures together with mommy, daddy, and all the brothers and sisters who already adore her!



I have a feeling these are going to be the longest two weeks of my life...
Any suggestions of fun activities to do with the kids while we wait for Mom, Janaya and Zena to come home are more than welcome!