fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Sunday, February 28, 2010

No mascara needed

Out of all the items that I packed I didn't forget anything! Then on our first morning I realized the waterproof mascara! What! I was a little bummed because I feel naked without my mascara, I know I am NOT alone in this! But now I see that may have been divine intervention. This journey is amazing but also heart-breaking. Sometimes I think my compassion is too big, almost too a fault. Today there we a few major moments that will stay with me and are very much apart of the experience here in Ethiopia. And because it is my wish to share this whole experience with you, then I must show all sides.

We started and ended our day very nicely. The whole morning (3 hours) we were able to hang out in Tessa's baby nursery. We were on the floor with a couple other families surrounded by 12 babies. Mom, you would have been in heaven. When we weren't loving on Tessa there was always another baby that needed attention. The babies look to make eye contact and most smile right away when they get it from you. I am sure many other traveling groups have done the very same thing and given all of these babies, Tessa included, such attention. That feels wonderful, because there just isn't enough of the 2 nannies in the room to go around. We noticed that often the nannies preferred it if we didn't pick up a crying baby in their crib and instead soothe them by rubbing their backs or do nothing at all. They don't want the babies to learn when they cry that they are always picked up. So, when a nanny couldn't get to a crying baby in a crib we would rub their backs and then have to ask permission to pick the baby up, if needed. There were lots of babies to play with on the mat and we spent a lot of our time there playing with Tessa and all the babies. They just want to be touched so badly. You can see their desire in their eyes and the joy when they receive touch. Having so much time with Tessa was amazing. She smiled, giggled and really showed us how she plays. She seemed like a totally different little girl today!

While we really enjoyed being able to see the workings of the nursery, with that also came the reality that the babies have to eventually give in, accept that they are better off being quiet. We could see that most had accepted this, and then saw a couple who were fighting this and demanding attention. We all so desperately wanted to fill that baby with attention, but could see the nannies didn't want us to intervene. The nannies do a wonderful job and will try to distract the upset child with sounds, using their voices or a toy. But we all know what she really needs. Andy is so amazing with all these little babies and doesn't hesitate at all to hold, play and snuggle with a new baby.

I was hit with an unexpected moment today. As I walked up the stairs a group of toddlers were playing in a large open room. Then I recognized her in an instant....Tirunesh. I asked the nanny if this was Tirunesh to be sure, but I knew it was her. Tirunesh, with her beautiful almond shaped eyes showed me her toothy smile. She made very long eye contact with me and I with her. I waved to her and she continued to smile at me. My heart did fill up with sadness, guilt, grief- all these things- but mostly love. I didn't know Tirunesh, but did have her referral for 2 months and really felt I loved this child. In the same way you do with a pregnancy, one you have lost. But in this case I had had a photo of the child, imagined her as MY child and feel in love with her. A little later I saw her again in the hallway and asked the nanny if I could say hello. Tirunesh came to me on her own. I said hello and then gave her a hug and kiss....eyes filled with tears and my heart breaking. She is not my daughter now, but was for 2 months in my heart. I don't know if the problems with her referral were worked out or not, but I do see that she is very healthy, so very beautiful and seems so very happy. And for now that is the most I hope for. I know her forever family will be coming for her one day. I also know I will carry my love for her with me in my heart....there's plenty of room. No mascara needed
In Tessa's nursery there is a baby that is very small and coughing. I thought he probably had just come to the care center and was probably 3 weeks old at the most. This little boy is 7 months old. He is what we normally see on T.V. in telethons. He is very real, he has a name, he wants to live and is fighting. He is on the brink of life. Please send a prayer or thoughts to this child.

After our morning care center visit, we had lunch and it was off to shopping. which as we know is my speciality. :) We hit some tourist markets "mercados" and found beautiful scarves, ebony carvings, traditional clothing, jewelry, coffee. It was fun shopping but with only an hour I felt the pressure to make thoughtful purchases. Andy was there to help with the bartering, but I happen to think I am pretty good at it too. With the shopping came another Ethiopian reality. The begging here is intense. You walk out of a shop and their are children, men and women holding babies waiting, selling something or asking for Birr (the currency). I was managing all of that pretty well until we got on the bus. There the children come to the window to ask for Birr or sell gum. There was a security guard shooing them away. One little girl was persistent and kept coming back, which was when the security guard held up her cane stick high in position not to push her away but to hit her. This scene is very common, but for me just hurt so much. These people are like all of us, except that they were born here, they were born into dire situations and carry the look of desperation in their eyes , if you are brave enough to look. Again, no mascara needed today.

I know what we are seeing here is important for many reasons. First, I am taking as much in as possible to be able to tell Tessa about her country one day so I am trying to be very observant even when it is painful. Second, this is real life in the world that we don't have to look at everyday in our lives in the US....but we need to remember these conditions exist even when we can't see them. Third, I want to be a person that knows that they were lucky to be born a woman in the USA. I got lucky purely by birth to be born in a country full of opportunity, the ability to have clean water, food and the privilege to be able to think beyond my survival. It is just plain luck that I don't carry desperation in my eyes and instead am able to carry compassion.

I thought about a warning label at the beginning of this blog entry and then realized I didn't want to warn you. If you are here at my blog you are taking the journey with us.

There are some moments in life that mascara is the last thing I should be thinking about.

Much love to you all....from Ethiopia,

This is Big Love

-Hosanna is my daughter's birth place located about 4 hours drive south of the capital city, Addis Ababa. Today we left at 6 a.m. to make the trip to Hosanna to have a meeting like no other. Today was the meeting with birth parents or the person that discovered your child. I can tell you that it is more emotional and heart wrenching than anything I have ever experienced. We have 9 families in our travel group and each of us were so fortunate to have a meeting. We were so hopeful that Amarech would decide to come meet us and she did.

Our meeting with Amarech was beautiful. We were able to ask her questions about Tessa's first days. She gave us so much in this meeting. A connection to Tessa's first chapter in life. We will be able to tell Tessa about Amarech, who she is in her life and her love for her. I won't share the details of this meeting because it is absolutely sacred and for Tessa. But I can tell you it was quite literally one of the most memorable, emotional and beautiful moments of our lives. Amarech (pronounce Ah-ma-resh) has the most amazing gentle, loving presence. God sent her into Tessa's life, I am absolutely certain of it and so is Amarech.

After all the meetings were complete we had a candle lighting ceremony. All the birth parents on one side of the room, all the adoptive parents on the other. The birth parents said a prayer for us and their children in Amharic and we said a prayer for them and dedication to their children for a lifetime. The birth parents passed over the lit candle representing the child to us. Both adoptive and birth parents kissed cheeks and embraced. There were no words, none necessary. In the birth parents eyes was sadness, pain, love and hope. In my eyes and heart was sadness, pain, love and hope.
This ceremony was beautiful, rare and full of love....all this love on both sides of the room for the very same children.
It was the greatest love I have ever witnessed. This is Big Love.

Today was a day that helped my heart grow stronger even more full of love.

Friday, February 26, 2010

To: Judson, Drew and Jack

Dear Judson, Drew & Jack,

We miss you and cannot wait to introduce you to your sister! She is even cuter than in those pictures. I know that is hard to believe. You all will just love holding her little body and seeing how she loves being tickled and smiles. She is a snuggler just like all of you! I got to feed Tessa some cereal with a spoon and give her juice from a small metal cup. She hasn't had a bottle yet, but I think she will love one, because she likes to suck...her favorite thing is to suck on her thumb! Maybe she will like a nuk like Drew & Jack did. You are all the big brother now to Tessa! I can't wait for you to meet her!

It was a very, very long trip here, but everything went perfectly. Someday we will all come here so you can see what Tessa's home country is like. It is a beautiful country. There are mountains in the distance that I can see. Addis Ababa is a busy capitol city. It is very different than life at home. Most people here struggle for everything like food, clean water, clothes. It makes me so very grateful, but also sad that we can't do more. I want you to know that today I met some children your age at the care center that are waiting for their forever families! I bet some of those little boys will get to wear your shirts and play with the match box cars you sure to tell Nicholas and Cameron this too. There are families here right now that are all bringing home their children that are your age! You should see how happy they are to know their forever parents! I wish I could show you with photos, but we are not allowed to bring a camera into the care know how much that is bothering me!!!

It is the middle of the night here and I should go back to bed. I love you and miss each one of you. Be good to Brianna and be sure to give her a thank-you and hugs for all she is doing.
Mommy and Daddy love you and miss you so much. We can't wait to bring Tessa home and all be together!

I hope you are enjoying your treasure hunt!

We met our new daughter today!

There are no words to fully capture a day like today. It was amazing because we met our daughter! I will do my best here to share the day, but knowing that there is far more to share and too few words right now.

After breakfast we went over to the care house with all the families. We all waited with enormous anticipation for each of our social workers to come down and call our names to meet our children. It was something to watch each family go off to meet their child. I was in tears the entire time. Families were being united! At last, it was our turn and we ascended the stairs with a camera-man taping us as we go to Tessa's nursery (with 11 other babies). There our social worker, Meron, held her. She was not tearful or crying and she handed her right over to me. I did the tearful, crying part for both of us! It was beautiful. Andy and I both enjoyed those first few moments and felt so much love that it is hard to explain. We took her down to a carpeted area to play. She mostly just stared at us, even when we offered her toys. She was watching us and seemed to know something was going on. She is so adorable, so snuggly and sweet. No matter what we did to try and get her to smile she wouldn't crack a smile. I don't blame her, I would do the same thing. After a while, I held her in a rocking chair and she fell right asleep on my chest...I have a drool mark to show for it! It was such a wonderful moment. Andy and I were soaking it all up. I was able to feed her and then it was her nap time and our time for meetings and lunch.

Between meetings we were able to have two more visits with her nickname is Tesfu. The 2nd meeting she recognized us, but continued to stare and suck her thumb, which is her favorite thing. The 3rd visit came about an hour later. It was then that we cracked the Tessa smile code! Oh what a smile and how it lights up her face! It was wonderful. We are so happy we had 3 visits with her today, with each visit I know she will grow to trust and know us more and more.

That is about all I have in me for now. This country is beautiful. The most beautiful part so far is the love they have for these is so expressed by them all. I love that. There were sad tears today, but many more tears of joy. It was a beautiful that will stay with us for a lifetime.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

For Tessa and me

Take a look at this amazing bracelet!!! It is a silver charm bracelet with charms of Africa, Ethiopia-which also is the shape of an angels' wing and a circle charm which has been hand-stamped with Tessa's names. On one side of the circle charm is " are hope" (Tessa's Ethiopian name) and the other side holds her name given to her from us, "Tessa Amarech". There will be a ceremony in Ethiopia for when we take full care of Tessa and she will receive this bracelet then. I will also be wearing my own matching bracelet (of course!). I love what charm bracelets represent and this one is especially special.

This bracelet was handmade by an Etsy Artist, Tracy Hanson. See all of her beautiful works inspired by her love and passion for adoption at

1 day....

1 day and we are on our way to Ethiopia!! It is surreal. This is really happening!? I have been in such a super-organization/nesting mode that I am looking forward to leaving that behind and being able to emotionally dive into this journey. Right now it feels difficult to fully connect because I am so distracted by everything here with the kids.

I am grateful for the long travel ahead, time alone with Andy and to be able to be fully present in this process. The flights will give us time to talk about all we have been through and the week ahead, which will undoubtedly be one week we will never forget. How often in our lives do we actually know we are meeting one of the most important people in our lives? Almost always, you meet someone who you will love and have no idea in that moment that God has brought you together for a reason, a purpose. We have the beautiful gift of meeting our daughter. Knowing that we already have love for her, will get to know her and her us, and will take a journey together for the rest of our lives. That is so beautiful, isn't it!?

Packing, organizing, nesting...ready to go!

I feel like I have been organizing and nesting for weeks....and I have. The house is as ready as it is going to get. It is quite a task to stay on top of things around here when I have 4 other people working against me. It is just life in all its messiness, but sometimes I wish it would just stay clean! There is this need to be as prepared to leave my boys as possible. Make everything as easy as possible for the babysitter. Of course, I know everything will be fine and acknowledge that I am doing all of this to make myself feel more at ease...everything doesn't HAVE to be in order. But won't it be nice to come home and not have the linen closet be a mess, the kitchen cabinets crumb-filled and disorganized? Yes it will! I have done as much as I can to be able to totally focus on Tessa and the boys when we get home.
Here are photos of the packing....phew! It is I am almost done with this organized mess. We are carrying 4 large suitcases stuffed full of our "stuff" and donations, each with a 50 pound max. That just isn't enough!! I am really minimizing what I will be bringing clothes wise. I always tend to overpack and now is the time to get a handle on that. As you can see, I am a big fan of the space saver vacuum packs....those things are awesome.

A HUGE thank you to all our friends for helping us fill these suitcases with donations: formula, diapers, clothing, children's books, and $$$ for the orphanage. How incredibly grateful we are to you for thinking of Tessa, the orphanage that has been caring for her and being apart of this journey to Ethiopia with us. My dear soul friend, Marcie, has also organized meals for us with these same friends! After we return we will have meals delivered to us every Monday and Thursday into May. I can hardly express how much I appreciate this gesture. Thank you dear friends.

1 day and we are off to meet our Sweet girl!

Monday, February 15, 2010

My godchild....

Sweet god son. How I love and adore this child! He is almost 1 year old now. Where did this past year go? I have such a bond to this child....who he is in the life of my soul friend, Marcie and in my own life. Never have I felt so strongly about another person bringing a child into the world as I did with Max. I just knew he was coming...I knew my friend was not done. And look, here he is all sparkly, sweet and wonderful! So, when this came to fruition it felt so right, like a true blessing. Sweet Max at almost 12 months old. What a beautiful baby boy....and I am his god-mother. I get that very special makes us family, it makes us connected to each other and you better believe that this god-mama will be watching over with lots of love for a lifetime. Happy first birthday Max!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow days...

Snow Days! It has been a snowy couple of days. The boys enjoyed a full day home yesterday and a late start to school today. Here are some fun photos (with my new camera all ready for travel!) of the boys playing!
We leave for Ethiopia in exactly 2 weeks!!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Being a big brother takes practice

Three year old Jack, is ready to take on being a BIG brother. He has long been known as baby Jack. But as he will assertively tell you when you call him Baby Jack, "I not a baby. Tessa is a baby. I a big boy!". There you have it. And here are the photos that tell the rest of that story. Jack too is preparing for Tessa. He is preparing to be a big brother. This includes snuggling "doll Tessa", giving rides on her blanket and in his favorite toy...the Tonka truck. Need I say more?!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ethiopia here we come!!!!

YAHOOOOOOO!!! We are set to travel to Ethiopia on Feb 24th!!!! Arrive Feb Tessa on Feb 26th (which is also my father's 60th birthday!), then have a week in Addis and then leave on March 4th, home on the 5th!

This all comes as such a surprise. With all the set backs, ups and downs, I really didn't think we would get to travel so early. Thank goodness! This is the best news possible! Tessa we are on our way in 22 days!!!

Thank you for visiting the fiddlehead report!