May 2, 2008

This week Last Year - Day 5 -

The First Real Taste of Parenthood

So, after another amazing breakfast we made our way to the care center to spend some time with the boys. We decided to be brave and take them back to the guesthouse today. The one thing about the guesthouse is that it is a first parents greatest nightmare when it comes to childproofing. There are stairs and wires and outlets and sharp corners and being that I was already scared of the prospects of making a horrible error with the boys on our own....this made things even more challenging. Also, we did not pack enough toddler toys to keep them busy. Yes, empty water bottles came in handy and a variety of other things as well, but a bored baby = an exploratory baby and so with the stairs and wires and outlets looking like much fun, we had to be on guard at all times. On a good note, Seb seemed to be adjusting rather well to us when away from the care center's many familiar faces. Mike was great with him and would take him out to the courtyard or the grassy area and swing him. We were still in the very small room which now was even smaller with two toddler sleep thingys shoved in. It wasn't too bad though. We enjoyed getting to know the boys without the distraction of a million people and we could tell some progress was being made.

Later that afternoon, we had a meeting with the doctor where we could go over any concerns and also where they would give us the medical records etc. Each family had a scheduled time and after the appointments we would have the Goodbye Ceremony. The doctor's meeting didn't take too long and we waited in the room and played with the boys as the staff set up for the ceremony. A little before the ceremony was set to begin, we were to put the boys in the traditional Ethiopian attire for the party. We also decided to change the boys diapers at this time since we were taking off their clothes anyway. Seb got changed without a hitch. Ben, on the otherhand, as soon as Mike took off his diaper decided to do his imitation of a fire hose. Being the unexperienced parents we were, we didn't cover the hose with a wipe to protect us and our surrounding from a good spray. Anyone who knows Mike, knows that he can get flustered in a tight situation. I had to suppress a laugh as I saw my stressed husband trying to clean the baby, himself and the play mat all before the ceremony began. I thought.....this is it.....a real moment of parenthood. This was the first of many times we would be soaked with a number of the boys bodily fluids. This would be barely the tip of the iceberg really.

All of the families were lined up in chairs, holding their children, on the periphery of the room. The older children were in rows of chairs in the back of the room. The staff were across from the parents and with the older children. It was almost like a graduation and you could feel the emotion in the air. Again, I tried to keep my emotions in check as I didn't want another crying video memory of myself. The older children sang and it was hard not to wonder if each and every one of them had a family already. The staff passed out little heart shaped cards to each of our children. The videographer came around to tape everyone and asked for a message. I didn't want to I was trying to hold it together, but of course, Mike was plotting against me, or maybe he couldn't talk either for the same reasons. So, I managed to mumble a very lame thank you which I cringe at everytime I watch the video, wishing I were more eloquent and could truly express how grateful and blessed I feel to have the opportunity to raise these children. I felt this way then, but now I feel it more. Now that I know what it is to be their parent and to wake up happy every morning to their voices. I have so many words, but still I think I would fail to articulate them in such a way to really explain how I feel. There are no words that can fully express what I feel. As I know it is delusional, but I am so full of love and emotion for these boys that it is almost like it is a feeling that is so intense no one can understand. Like it is a feeling I invented, as how could anyone feel this much. Or maybe I am just full of "it" today. I don't know......back to it I suppose....

The children were also each called up to put their handprint on the wall in paint so that they would always be a part of where they came from and so that their memory would live on there. Of course, the boys did not like the paint and cried....if only given the chance now they would be in heaven and would have thought to make a mess. Fingerpainting instead of a handprint, but, it was a lifetime ago. I think they also felt the emotion in the air and were probably confused and scared and this was probably a very traumatic week for them. The staff led the families in a prayer. I kept my tears at bay, although I didn't really have to. I don't think there was a dry eye in the place and we were surrounded by friends. It was a truly special event. To close, they had a banana cake. We stayed for awhile and ate our cake which was delicious. The children played and we said our goodbyes and thank yous to the staff. We retrieved the boys' photo album and embroidered blankets that we had sent before we knew them. It was time to journey back to the guest house with our boys.

We had to take turns taking rides back as they had a car the size of a geo metro and there were many of us. Luckily, one of our travel mates let the four of us squeeze in with her and her son in the back seat. Talk about a can of sardines or maybe a clown car....I don't know, but we were exhausted and happy to squish such a kind, Christian woman since she had offered to let us do so. That night would definitely be a trial. Our first night of dealing with the crying and nighttime feedings. The first night of poopy blowouts. It was an art that Seb had perfected and something we had to get used to for almost six months after this point. You have not had the joy of cleaning a diaper until you have wrangled with the poopy blowout. This was a staple of our lives in that it occurred all day, from the morning through the evening. Because it happened so often, we had to wash by hand and hang to dry onesies almost constantly. It was worse at night because you are half asleep and as if in a cartoon, the distinctive horribly toxic odor wafts under your nose like a finger summoning you. You awake, praying you will catch it in time. Please be contained in the diaper this time! But, alas, it has a mind of its own. It will not be contained. It will find every crease and crevice to make its way out and leave its mark on every piece of clothing, every body part, every blanket and piece of bedding that you can imagine. An hour later, even after you think you have done a CDC outbreak contamination quarantine like job, you will find a splatter of poop somewhere and say......where did this come from? I tell had a mind of its own. It didn't help that in these first couple of nights, changing diapers led to very unhappy screeching babies. I guess if an acquaintance...almost stranger....woke me in the dead of night to change my diaper, I might scream too. So, we thought for sure that the other guests in the guest house would think how horrible we were. What must we be doing to these kids? Why could we not fulfill their needs and make them quiet so the world could sleep? Mike was panicked. Should we be taking these kids if they are so unhappy with us? It takes time babe. We will be okay. Don't lose faith. And he didn't. And we didn't. And we made it through. And I hope that the boys will always know how much we love them and we will be happy if they love us even a tenth of that because that is a whole lotta lovin'.

I think to this point of all the things that had to align for us to have these boys...these perfect additions to our family and in many ways extensions of ourselves. There were so many things that occurred in our lives good and bad that lead us to the specific point of starting this process when we did and if even one thing went differently; if Mike became a Dr. in KC, or if my sister didn't fall in love when she did or if we would have delayed when Mike was in his accident....we wouldn't have our boys. It is weird. We see so much of ourselves in them and it could be nuture vs. nature or it could be that it was meant to be. I say this with a heavy heart as I don't think God thought us better than their Ethiopian parents and I don't know how to reconcile the thoughts, but.......thinking here......I don't know. How did we get matched up with these two guys....these boys who are perfect for us.....these boys who are so much like us. I think all of this blogging is driving me crazy. Anyway...the week is coming to an end.....never fear......the fluff blogging will be back in no time. After the week tribute to Ethiopia is over of course.

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