Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Six Months Home

Today marks six months home. I have trouble knowing what to write about since we have one day after the next when it comes to monthly anniversaries. But having her in our arms and being home are two experiences that are quite separate, so I want to mark both.

I feel like our real adjustment as a family began the moment we walked off the plane in Kansas City. In Ethiopia, it was a honeymoon period of sorts, except I didn't realize it just then. Oh, I knew we had it good in a lot of ways, but I also longed for a home life. We didn't get that by simply stepping off the plane in our home city, and I'd say that it's really just lately that we've felt settled and at home. There is so much to navigate when bringing a new child home, and when you throw in the part where she has experienced trauma and is experiencing trauma in the form of leaving behind everything she's known, it is incredibly messy. Life is so much more full of everything at home to begin with, before you even throw in those huge issues. In Ethiopia, we had the luxury of dealing with the issues without the extra stresses of day to day life. Living out of suitcases is a challenge, but when you've packed for a month, you have everything you need for that month (mostly) at hand. When someone else cooks your meals for you and does your laundry, you don't have to figure out how to fit that in. There are no dishes to do, either. And there are no people who need or want things from you.

Coming home was a reckoning of sorts, a trial by fire. Could I get the dishes done and make choices that were in the best interest of my daughter? Judging by the pots and pans on my counters right now, the answer to the first part is still no much of the time. But it's getting better, and the second part is better, too. We do have a home life that isn't violated as often. Now that most people have met Zinashi, there's not such a flurry of requests to see her or to have her do things. There are still experiences she hasn't had, which many people feel she should have had already or that we should plan with haste, but now I just let most of those things go, or say that we're pretty much hippies who don't believe in television or early reading or marketing to children. (Which is all true, except that I like cute shoes way too much to be a hippie.) I'm sure a lot of people roll their eyes at our parenting, but that's okay. We like our family life, and we love our Zinashi, and at six months home we are truly at home together. What else matters? Not much, probably.

let me tell you how it is

At six months home, we have worked hard to get where we are. But we've also loved much and laughed much and snuggled up next to a sweet little someone in our very own bed at night. It feels good. To be here. To be now. Six months home, and happy. We'll take it.


  1. Mary, your deep love for Zinashi comes through so very strongly in all your posts, and this one is no exception. I choked up at the end.

    I have been meaning to write/comment for quite a while now. I found you a few weeks (months?) ago, via a comment you left on a Mighty Girl post. I never click on people's URLs from comments, but for some reason I did that time -- I am so glad.

    Though I read a few other blogs written by adoptive mothers (and they are wonderful), yours … well … it’s in a different league, girl. You GOT me. For plenty of reasons, including the magnificent video of your and Jarod’s first moments with Zinashi. Unbelievable. I don’t cry much, but I sure cried then! In reading your story, I have been so moved by your fierce love for and enjoyment of your daughter, your passionate commitment to her needs and your sharp ears and eyes, fine-tuned to her wavelength. I especially respect and support you in your viewpoint and thoughts on the grief and sorrow that Zinashi bears – how you don’t try to make it all go away for her, believe you can heal it, insist that that belongs in the past or ignore it completely. You seem to calmly see her pain, walk alongside her in her sorrow and do for her what is in your power to do. While you long to carry it for her, you respect her and the fact that it is hers alone to carry. That kind of perspective – I don’t hear many parents speak of it in the way you do, and I’ve wondered why. Though overall I agree with you that you and your husband are lucky to have Zinashi (as opposed to the other way around, which implies rescue or indebtedness of some sort), this is one area where I believe she is super-lucky to have you.

    And I’m not sure how this went down, but in all the time it took to read through your story and ponder your words, I began to notice a surprising thing: my heart was, ever so slowly, softening and warming up to adopting, myself. I’ve read countless adoption stories and that had never been the case. Perhaps we should chalk it up to Zinashi’s mindblowing cuteness. Truly, who can resist that kind of power?

    My husband and I have a 17-month-old son, after over four years of infertility and treatments. Much like, apparently, Zinashi does, we desire to add another little person to our family … and, in large part because of you, I am looking into adoption (it had been on the table before, but as I mentioned above, I just hadn’t been truly open to it). Simultaneously, my husband turned a corner and is interested in adoption too.

    Heartfelt thanks for sharing your story. BIG love to you and Zinashi and Jarod.

    (And for what it's worth, I'm with you on not being a big fan of TV, early reading and the rest -- but there's certainly pressure to engage in it!)


  2. Jennifer, thank you for reading and for such a gracious, thoughtful comment. I mostly write here to keep a record of our time as a family, but I also want to inform people about all the facets of adoption. I think that a lot of people don't talk about the hard stuff either because they want to keep it private or because they really don't think about it. I think the second reason is a huge disservice to their children, and I want to be part of the group that says, "Adoption is both wonderful AND heartbreaking, and the two are not mutually exclusive." To hear that you have taken away exactly what I had hoped is such an encouragement to me. I wish you the best of luck and much wisdom as you explore adoption. If there are any questions you have as you consider it, please feel free to email me: marymuses at gmail dot com. I would be happy to help you in any way.


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