These beautiful children who come from nothing don't take long before they look for everything. I have seen and heard the struggles of families who, through their graciousness, sacrifice to bring a child into their life, family and home, only to find out it isn't "enough".
Children are the same all over the world! If it is there, they want it, ask for it, beg for it and if you don't deliver it...complain. It's hard for other's to understand that these children who come from nothing (remember that we think it was "nothing") ask for everything. People always ask me "does he just appreciate all that you have done?" My response is "does any child?"
If you are expecting your adopted child to be amazed by this new life and constantly thank you for "saving" him, forget it. What you more than likely will hear is "why can't I have a cell phone? why don't I have a TV in my room? when do I get my own computer? Playstation2 is old, everyone has an XBox!"
It's a frustration to them that they expected to come to America where money is aplenty and so are things. Where all you have to do is ask and you shall receive. Where you keep all the freedoms of before, but add on the good stuff.
When people look surprised by this, I tell them: If someone walked up to you and handed you a bag of diamonds and said "I want you to have this, but you may only use it when I say so and you must do everything I tell you to do." Would you take it? Or, would you rather have your freedom? For our precious one, he would rather have the freedom to do what he wants when he wants with whatever he wants. Keep your playstation, DVD's and house. I'll just sleep outside. Can't motivate someone who had nothing, right?
So, if you are looking for the moment of joyous gratitude, wait a little longer. It will come when they move out.
On the other hand, he was enthusiastically thankful tonight when I put the old computer in his room to play on. Hope it holds up, or we may be asking for a new one! A friend once told me that a mother's job is to provide food, love and a place to sleep. So, when my son once yelled angrily,"You never buy me anything!" I replied, "What?! I bought you bananas!"
Wow! What a journey! I apologize for neglecting this blog. I haven't always known what to say this past year. Adopting an older child is as hard as they say. The transition is for EVERYONE...not just for the child.
Eli is now into his second year in America and in our family. This summer we will see our second child off to college. We will become a household of three. It has been a rollercoaster this past year and I will honestly say, one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The adjustment to family life, rules, structure, school, friends, siblings, schedules, car rides, food, clothing, etiquette, language...along with grieving, sadness, homesickness and post traumatic stress...what were we thinking?!
Well, as one friend said to me, "You are doing God's work and it's never easy." She's right. We have a beautiful little boy, who in time, will learn to trust us. He has God's hand on him in every way. He has come to this strange place (with some ridiculous expectations), but has been wholly embraced by our friends, family and this community. People know him from his engaging smile and bright eyes. They root for him when he is down and yell his name when he shines on the soccer field. He is blessed.
With our second child off to college, we are so lucky to know we have Eli. He has filled our lives as a child does and we see him starting to understand and accept us and this new life. We pray for him and others pray for him. It has been a tough year, but today, we are happy.
Here's what we have been up to...
Over 40 goals this soccer season!
Showing best friend, Anders, how to eat Ethiopian food...
...and wearing his hat...
Putting up with big sis and the fuss of senior year...
Hanging out with dad...
Celebrating (one year)...
Being in America...Congratulations, Eli. We love you!
Every once in a while, I am reminded how much our little guy has endured with this transition and all in such a short time. It's the simplest things that we take for granted...
Everyday we check our teeth and remark upon their whiteness. Brushing our teeth is not a new thing, but doing it so often, is.
The other day he says, "In Etopia, I never see my teeth white." "You didn't have white teeth?" He responds, "I don't know...I never see." Hmmm...."You had never seen your teeth in Ethiopia?" "No, mom. I never see." How is that, I wonder? "Do you mean you have never seen your face before?" "No, Mom! I see my face," he laughs. "Okay. Why haven't you ever seen your teeth then? I don't understand." "I come to America and I see my teeth everyday. My teeth white!" Now, I am confused. "So, you saw your face, but never looked at your teeth?" "Look, mom...no see. I see my face. I see my face in window." Ahhh...wow. I am speechless.
I cannot believe Eli has been with us for over three months! We feel as though he has always been with our family. Have our lives changed so drastically? I would say "no". He has brought his intelligence and energy to our house...and keeps us moving! Just a little update...
He came running in the house one day trying to explain a favorite toy in Ethiopia. I tried to find something like it online, but had no success. My husband came home and understood exactly what he wanted! This is the same day I decided to give him the "letter". After reading this sad, but sweet letter from his mom, he wiped his tears when his dad produced this toy! Any other kids recognize this??
Soccer came to an end with 18 goals scored in 6 games! Wow! He was fun to watch! He made some very nice friends and had a blast with some awesome coaches. A great way to be introduced to soccer in America!
Lauren performed the fall play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with a special appearance by one little brother, Eli. I don't know how I let them talk me into this. I prefer to watch and not be backstage, but this took a little supervision. Eli played the part of the Queen fairy's "adopted" boy. He did awesome and stayed right in character! Theatre could be in his future??
Things haven't been all that smooth. This last weekend we spent 24 hours in the hospital with Eli. With all the activity, we tried to fit in a little ice skating. Eli has fairly mastered street hockey and is pretty confident on skates. We decided to take this to the rink and what should have been a casual day skating in circles, turned into craziness! He fell(hard!)on the ice, smacking the side of his face and head. We ended up in the emergency room after an ambulance ride. This is devastating to me. I am a seasoned parent that has never had an incident with my kids. The thought that a little boy can survive 9 years in a disease-ridden, poverty stricken country, where he tells us children are crippled falling off cliffs and large meat-eating birds circle overhead looking for a meal, can come to a suburb in Minnesota, participate in a little ice skating and end up in the hospital! I guess I learned this...wear a helmet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Welcome back to motherhood.
I have always been puzzled by adoptive moms feeling hurt by the fact that there is a birth mom still wanting contact with their own child...until now. As you know, Eli has a mother who is ill and could not care for him, nor offer him a future. A few weeks ago, Eli announced that he plans to someday go home to Ethiopia and see his mom. He would like to work hard to buy her a house. I felt a twinge of hurt that he wanted to leave, and maybe a bit of surprise because I thought he understood that she wouldn't be there. However, my heart melted at the idea that he wanted to do such a thing and still loved his mom and wasn't angry with her.
Yesterday, I found out that there is a letter on its way from Ethiopia from his mom. Again, I have this feeling of uncertainty. At the beginning, I felt like this would be a beautiful thing. Now, I am apprehensive. What is the letter about? Will it be a positive thing, or bring about sadness? We have made leaps and bounds in the almost 3months he has been with us, and I want to continue moving forward. On the other hand, as his birth mom, I would worry if he would ever receive this letter, wonder if he is forgetting me or even hates me. I know from a mother's standpoint that giving her only child up was a difficult and devastating choice. I feel like my role is to finish the upbringing of this little boy and give him the chance he deserves.
I hope that this letter will give him strength to move forward and reinforce that his mother loves him and supports him in this new life. For me, I have to remind myself that he spent 9 years learning from this amazing woman. He is an energetic, brave and happy little boy with an "infectious" smile and such a blessing to our family...and it's all a credit to her! I pray this letter will comfort him.
It has been busy since the first day of school. Eli started 4th grade and he loves his teacher! She tells us that the kids fight over who will be his science partner! They started him in a lower math and the specialist brought him right back to class saying he will do fine with his classmates. He is loving playing football at recess, painting, computers, bringing a home lunch and riding his bike every day to school!
I had back surgery and have had some recuperation time. Thank goodness my parents flew in from California to pick up the slack! Thanks, mom and dad! At the same time, they got to meet their third grandchild! Eli impressed them with his winning smile and engaging personality...and...wore them out!! He is a bundle of energy and loves to do EVERYTHING!! He is lovin' school and his first days.
Soccer started and he had a successful first game with 5 goals and one assist. We won 9-1!! He has a team full of athletic little guys that he is becoming buddies with. Everyone has been so accepting and one of the coaches took him to a college game, which he loved! We so enjoyed watching him on the field with his tricks, while stylin' with his colorful Ethiopian headband! This first day, he and a teammate were the team captains!
I think we are doing so great! He finally eats and loves pizza. It was one of those obstacles he was determined to overcome. He loved the word "pizza" and saw that every other child in America loves this food, especially his big brother! He kept trying to eat pizza till he could say, "I love pizza!"
He would like to learn a musical instrument. My good friend gave him a harmonica and he loves that! He will do anything!
Many more of Eli's buddies are home from Ethiopia...and just before the court closures. He has been on the phone welcoming some of them to America and we wish them all well in the transition of their new homes and families. I couldn't ask for a better start to the school year. Our oldest is looking at a career as an officer in the AF, following in his father's footsteps. Lauren has begun her senior year and is now applying to colleges. We are thankful for our many blessings and look forward to this new school year!