Saturday, 31 October 2009


Here are some photos at last. The last few days have been, frankly,
pretty awful. But fortunately we are now all picking up from our
various ailments - baby boy has stopped vomiting every time we give
him his antibiotics, and we can all eat real food again (well, those
of us who are old enough to). We have been so
incredibly thankful to have my mum here - without her I really don't
know HOW we would have coped with the last few days. She has done our
washing and kept us supplied with enough sprite to keep going when we
couldn't hold down anything else - I don't think these attributes are
specifically mentioned in Proverbs 31 but I rather think they should

But who cares about us? What about the babies??!!!??? Thanks for
asking - they are doing incredibly well. Despite their hatred for my
new most-useful gadget, the infant nasal aspirator, we are definitely
making friends. I'm not making any crazy statements about attachment
yet, but they are very willing to be held and comforted but us and
this is a huge relief, and a great first step. We hardly recognise
them even from the babies they were a few days ago. They are eating
(and eating and eating) and we can see them gaining strength right
before our eyes. They are really delightful and we are so thankful
that they are finally with us.

Of course, if I'm to be honest, the first few days I was thinking
pretty much nothing but 'oh I cannot BELIEVE what I have done' but
already the person having those thoughts feels like someone other than
me. Thinking about how little sleep I will get tonight (and probably
forever) still makes me feel really fearful - HOW am I going to cope
with this? How am I going to cope with a flight? How will we get them
to the passport office? But I knew it wouldn't be easy. And it's not.
And that's normal. And today it feels just about, almost, nearly, the
right side of impossible. Ask me again after this night!

And they are pretty cute, huh??

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

We Passed!

We have good news! This morning we attended the First Instance
District court and were officially declared to be parents.

We are thrilled and very thankful. We will be picking up the babies
later this afternoon, and will post pictures as soon as we get a
chance. Just wanted to pass on the good news now!

Right, off to Kaldi's for one last lunch...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The view from my window right now

I see a young man washing a 4X4
I see a bike leaning against a barbed wire fence
I see people working
I see people torpid
I see women walking down the street in long traditional dresses and
scarves, talking on mobile phones.
I see shacks made from corrugated iron and plastic.
In the distance I see skyscrapers.
I see the sun shining
I see planes taking off
I see the hills
I see a tiny child running in circles at breakneck toddler speed
I see donkeys and goats
I see the domes of Bole Mehdanealem church
I see bird after bird after bird after bird

I can't believe how good it is to be back. I had a cancelled flight
and a horrible journey but arriving felt like a strange kind of

And tomorrow's view will be even better. Tomorrow I see ...the babies!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Got it.

Got snowsuits

Got bearsuits *

Got stripes Got wipesGot clothes for him **
Got clothes for his twin
Got books and toys***Got wishes for joy****Got homemade owls

Got baby towels*****Got suitcases packed
(Got help from the cat)

Got nappies******

Got happy

And so.

Let's go!!*******

* is this child cruelty? I sure hope not.
** check out the tacky but fabulous superman outfit!!
*** the cot is in our room, before you think we've forgotten something major here...
**** sorry about that rhyme.
***** and yes, the towel ALSO has an owl! I didn't make that one though.
****** if you were writing this in the states, what would you rhyme with 'diaper??'

******* 9.30 tonight! And yes, I'm ready! For the flight at least, if not for parenthood. Will post again from Addis as soon as I can.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

It seems I always forget

To post the really important things, like dates.

Like the fact that I have to appear in court in person.

Like the fact that this means I'm flying tomorrow. On my own, because there was only one ticket left - J has to fly 48 hours later and touches down just a few hours before we need to go to our document checking appointment.

The last few days have been pretty intense. Once again, it's been an acceleration from zero to leaving the country in just a few days. You'd think I would have learned from last time and been more prepared, but no. Until we got that court date, I think that I didn't really believe these babies were going to make it home, so there wasn't much point making final preparations.

But now I finally do. You know, mostly. I keep looking at the baby clothes as I sort them and think: Hopefully, this time next week, this will have a baby inside. It makes me feel a bit teary and a bit scared.

Stuff for the babies is packed, although last night, late, I got an email from a friend who is there saying 'pack more clothes! The babies have exploding diarrhea!' So perhaps one more trip to the baby shop is in order...

Monday, 19 October 2009

Attachment literature, anybody??

Just another plea for help from the interwebs here, folks!

After about two years of reading and thinking about adoption attachment, we've decided that nobody but us is going to hold / feed our babies for the first few weeks (at least) after we get home. Also, we've decided that for a while we won't have any visitors at our house - we want to keep this as a 'safe space' for the babies until they begin to understand that they are in a family, and we will always be there. This makes a lot of sense to us, and I know that everyone on this list, even if you have made different decisions for your own situations, will at least understand where we are coming from.

However! We are having difficulty working out how to communicate this information to family and friends. People have mostly been very supportive of us during the long process, and we know that they are all eager to meet and hold our twins. We want to explain to them that we are making these decisions, not because we dont' value the contribution that they will make to our children's lives, and not because we are overprotective and paranoid, but because our children have different needs and need to learn not just who their parents are but what a parent is. It turns out that this isn't easy for people to hear - basically they think we are crazy. Or stupid. Or both.

So, I'm wondering... has anybody got any tips for how to communicate this information? Has anybody written a letter (or found a good one on the internet!) that might be helpful for us to use as a template? In terms of information sheets, I've been able to find a lot about WHAT should be done to facilitate attachment, but much less successful finding bite-sized information on WHY, and I want people to understand that we really do have good reasons for these decisions! Any help gratefully received!

On a related topic - I do'nt really think I can ask our family to read weighty tomes on these issues, but one or two of the more interested have also asked for a recommendation of a short book or 'primer' on the topic of attachment (and particularly how attachment affects brain development). I've really, really enjoyed 'why love matters', but i think even that is probably too in-depth. Does anybody have any suggestions??

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Exceedingly Abundantly

It's no secret that I have been feeling pretty discouraged lately. Yesterday I went out for lunch with a friend and ended up crying into my salad because I was so worried about the babies. (I've also been challenged a lot about my attitude towards all this by a book I've been reading, but events have somewhat overtaken the post I was planning on that topic. I've been fighting hard to stay trusting, especially in the last few weeks. I knew that God is powerful, but I was finding it hard to remember that he is good. I was probably going to have to quote from Job. It wasn't going to be pretty).

Then, last night - some wonderful news. Our babies are both up to 3.1kg! Finally, a weight that doesn't start with a 2! I know that people around the world have been praying for our little ones, and we are so grateful for this tangible answer to all of our prayers. Went to bed happy. I said to J - for the first time in a long time, I am starting to believe that these babies might actually make it home. Woke up happy.

And then, this morning - I don't know how to say this any other way than just stating the bare facts - we got our court date . It is:


October 27, people! Twelve days time! I am absolutely overwhelmed by God's kindness to me today. I was hoping and praying for the middle of November, but prepared for this to be way into December. Truly, he has done exceedingly abundantly above all that I had asked our thought. (Ephesians 3:20, way out of context, but you'll forgive me in my excitement, yes?)

We need to be out there October 25 so we can check all the paperwork is in order on October 26. I'm hoping to go out a few days earlier (hopefully with my mum) to visit a bit with the babies and remind them who I am.

I think it's finally, finally time for me to come out of nursery-avoidance mode. I'ts largely done, but there's no actual furniture. But today - no more excuses - today I'm buying a cot!!

(By the way, I'm painfully aware that I was not the only person in the universe waiting for a court date. Hurry up, Ethiopian courts, for court dates for Rana, and Evelyn, and Rebecca and Liz and Shannon and everyone else who is waiting! We've already waited out the closure! STAT! )

Monday, 12 October 2009

The Babies

I've realised that I have written a lot lately about waiting, but I haven't really written much about the two big things: Ethiopia (after the first two days of shock) and the babies (ditto). So first: the babies.

The babies are beautiful. They are bright as little buttons, have wonderful eye contact and lovely little personalities. And if love can be measured by how miserable you are apart from someone, I can tell you now that I definitely love these babies.

The most noticeable thing about these babies is that they are SMALL. One of the things I was trying to think through and deal with during the year + that we were waiting was the fact that we might be referred an 'old' baby. Our age range was up to 12 months, and we knew that with time taken for court and travel that the baby could be considerably older than this by the time they came home. I'm not going to defend myself about finding this hard to process - I knew I should just deal with it, but dangit, I really, really love crunched up little newborns and that's what I think of when I think 'baby'.

So anyway, when our babies were matched with us, they were four weeks old. And twins. And a boy and a girl. This is a total jackpot situation, yes? Well, YES! Of course. And the babies themselves are unbelieveable, perfect, adorable. But suddenly I found myself faced with issues that I had never considered. I had been so concerned about the baby being big, that I never thought about what would happen if they were scarily small. As I write, the babies are 10 1/2 weeks old, and they are both only just past the 6 pound mark. Did I say they are 10 1/2 weeks old? They are not quite yet grown into 'newborn' size clothes. I know that 6 pounds isn't really tiny, in the scale of things, and there are much tinier babies than this out there, but we know about their new weights because we finally got a weight update on the weekend and we can now calculate that since their birth they have only put on 1 1/2 pounds (baby girl) and 1 pound (baby boy) and that doesn't feel like enough to me. It doesn't look like enough to the WHO growth chart, either, even when corrected for likely prematurity. I wonder - is this officially failure to thrive? Then I checked some definitions and wow yes, it is definitely failure to thrive. And then I think - why would I not expect failure to thrive under their current circumstances? I've been reading this cheery book , and institutional care is filed under the chapter entitled 'severe neglect'. And hey - I have to agree. I've been there. We have a great big album of photos from our trip that I bore people with, and I love to point out pictures of our babies' favourite nanny. "Look, there she is! She's pinching their little cheeks and talking to them!" And she is, and that's great, but let's face it, she has 10 other babies to look after too and I know that, pep talks aside, our babies are getting nutrition and hygiene but nothing that even remotely approaches mothering.

What will the long term effects be, I wonder? I know that brain damage is a risk. I don't want my babies to be brain damaged. I know they are being regularly fed, but if they aren't eating enough at each feed, or spitting it all up, or not absorbing it properly, I'm pretty sure they face malnutrition the same way as if food wasn't available. I can't bear to think about the fact that this is almost certainly unnecessary. With dedicated care, I know they could be bigger. I know they could be growing. I wish I could do that. It makes me feel dizzy just to think about it.

And I know that there is nothing that anybody can say to make this any better. Nothing that will fix this, now, and we probably won't know for years whether there has been any long term damage.

Hmmmmm. Not really an upper, is it?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Small Things

Things I don't have, today:

  1. My babies at home
  2. A court date
  3. Any idea, at all, how the babies are doing

Things I do have, as of today:

  1. A colour-coded sweater drawer:
I almost wish I had my job back.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I'm with Rana

Okay, that's it, I've had it.

Why don't we have a court date yet?

Why do the courts need to close for two weeks (AGAIN) for more training?

Why havent' we had any updates about how the babies are doing?

When will we know when we're travelling again?

Will all the little baby clothes I've bought go to waste after all?

Why does my cat keep pooing on the floor?

Why has our water supply chosen this time to spring a leak?

Why can't I seem to keep the house under control, even without babies?

Are the babies putting on any weight?

What fun are baby photos when you can't cuddle the real thing?

I'm with this lady.

I'm so totally over this stage. I just want my babies to come home.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Culture Shock

Here's another one I prepared earlier, and haven't edited at all. Written day 2, Addis.
It's not cool to admit this, but arriving in Addis gave me a huge, 240 volt culture shock and it seems I left my rubber-soled shoes behind. In short, it fried me.

This is not a good feeling to have in the country of your children's birth. Those of us who consider ourselves to be thoughtful people, who have carefully considered the ongoing impact of international adoption, know that it's hugely important to honour our children's heritage. Nobody wants to love Ethiopia more than us. We read books. We listen to music. We go to restaurants. We learn Amharic. And then, in our case, we arrived, and POW. Instant, intense desire to leave. I couldn't believe it. Why? WHY? After all this time? I lived in Africa as a child, and the smells and sights brought back happy childhood memories. The goats being herded down the road kept making us point and say 'oooh, look!' The music was infectious, and the food was cheap and good. And still I wanted to leave. Why? I hated myself for it, which was convenient, because I already hated myself for not hearing angels sing when I met the babies. And then I remembered - I felt exactly the same when I arrived in England. And I liked that so much in the end that I decided to stay. I think the reason things felt so difficult was just the disorientation. I didn't really hate the place, I just hated the fact that I didn't know how to procure a sim card, or I did (get it from your driver) but I couldn't contact our driver because we didn't have a sim card. And we had a map, but we didn't really know where we were on the map, and we had dollars but not birr and we had been raced out of the airport so fast that we hadn't had a chance to change any money. In England, I hated it because I had a cheque for my scholarship money but nobody would let me open a bank account, so I couldn't access any of my cash. And I spent a large chunk of my first night there standing in a telephone box in the freezing January cold, frantically trying to call home and not knowing what the international dialling out code was (it's 00, just in case you ever need it).

Money and communication and orientation. Sort them out and most other things fall into place. We now have birr. We paid a huge fee to use someone else's phone, contacted our driver and we now have a sim card. And we now know that the orphanage is there, and the hotel coffee stinks but wonderful coffee can be obtained here, which is en route. And I still feel a bit shaken up, but I no longer want to leave. I'm glad. Now I feel like I can look my babies in the eye again.