Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adopted for Life

It came quietly, and with no ado, but she's a citizen. She's officially Zadie Hayat Williams. The wording on the document that came in the mail stated that she is "adopted for life". Tears flowed.

We had just returned from a trip to pick up our the portraits we
had done for her 18 month milestone. She had been patient
while the nice lady tried to up sale me. She had been very patient while mommy bought a
new dress.

We walked to the candy store to get a lollipop treat. She picked up two lollipops, and I said, "Ok, one for now and one for later." She answered by saying "Mama, mama, mama, mama". She then tried to put the second lollipop in my hand. She wanted to make sure there was one for Zadie and one for mama. Tears came to my eyes! But little did I know that there was the official decree of adoption in my mailbox, waiting to make real tears flow!

The photos attached are
our attempt at re-adoption day photos. After bath, we tried a little cuddling!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Referral-versary (December 23, 2009 / December 23, 2010)

(word borrowed from Gayla Friend Gower)

One year ago today we saw the lovely face of our daughter. Nothing could have prepared us for her beauty! We were taken aback by her lively eyes and her head full of hair. We laughed over her spunk and cried over how tiny she was.

We had gotten the call that there was a baby - a three month old little girl - on December 22, 2010. There were a couple of things to consider with her referral, so our caseworker gave us some information to read and wanted us to email her the next day to say whether or not we wanted to find out more about the little lady.

We got the emails with all of the information and spent the evening reading and pondering what we saw. We called a pediatrician and asked advice.

On Wednesday, December 23, 2009, we alerted our caseworker that we, indeed, wanted to pursue the referral of the little girl.

About 2pm in the afternoon, she called. I was at work, finishing the last minute details before our holiday break. Charlie was at his office doing the same. We coordinated our times; I went home. I got my laptop out and placed it on the kitchen counter. Kristin, the caseworker called, and conferenced Charlie in. She then sent a couple of emails thru at 2:36pm. I opened the first one right away and (of course) scrolled to the bottom to see the photos of our daughter, smiling, laughing, inviting me in to her life. Kristin was talking in the background - I am sure it was of importance, but I has skipped to the end - to the good part. When I saw her adorable face, I let out a gasp and starting crying immediately.

What a doll! In no way could I have been prepared for this moment. I was dizzy with excitement!

We went over the paperwork. I am sure, again, that Kristin was telling us important things, but all I could do was stare at her photos.

Kristin wanted us to think about the decision and get back to her. Charlie drove home, and we didn't really have to talk much about it! She was already ours. All the talking had been done the night before.

At 3:31 pm on December 23, 2009, I wrote:

After discussing the information we received, we are thrilled to officially accept the referral of Hayat! We look forward to proceeding with the next step!
Thank you for everything!

We are so excited and honored to become the parents are such a special little girl!

Little did we know how special she really was.

We thought that 2009 would be the best Christmas ever! The day before Christmas Eve we "met" our daughter. We placed photos in frames to give to our mothers as Christmas presents (we didn't tell them about the referral until they opened the gifts.)

Boy, were we wrong?! This Christmas we have this sassy little girl hunting for the Elf on the Shelf. We have a funny little daughter dancing every chance she gets. We have a doll who calls for "Mama" when she is sick in the night. We have a cutie who screams with terror when she sees Santa. We have a smart baby girl who "reads" to us with much expression and gusto.

Tonight we began the Christmas celebration with my mom, sister and niece. Zadie was gorgeous in her fancy dress. She laughed, dug in the gifts that weren't hers and played with the boxes that were. She eventually decided that she, indeed, loved the Weeble Playhouse from my sister and brother-in-law and then played with it. She also cried because she has had a tummy bug and is cutting those mean ole 12 month molars. But, she is special. She is smart and strong. She is lovely and loving. She is funny and fabulous!

One year ago today we fell truly, madly and deeply (thanks Sabrina) in love with a beautiful little girl from across the world. One year later, no one could have prepared us for the love that we have for her now.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Zadie Turns One

I sit here tonight with a million emotions -

Our baby girl is hardly a baby any longer. She is a walker. Walking is what she defers to. She was toddling around this afternoon after dinner, trying to keep up with the big kids. She could hardly hold up her tiny head when we met her. Now she literally runs around. That makes me proud.

Tomorrow is her birthday party. She will officially be 1 on Monday, 9/27. People are coming from all around to mark this milestone with us. We will have cake, music, games and fun. That makes me happy.

Asaye, from Bridge of Hope in Gonder sent us an email today that says he will also "be at her party". He plans to light a candle for Zadie and pray that she is the "happiest girl in the world" on her birthday. He took Zadie into the children's home and had the forethought to call Gladney. His work in Gonder is amazing, and the good people there kept our baby healthy for the first several weeks of her life. That makes me grateful.

Somewhere in Gonder, Ethiopia, a young lady must be thinking about "this time last year". What was she thinking and feeling then? Was she scared? Was she sick? Was she overwhelmed? What is she thinking and feeling this year? Is she sad? Does she have regret? Is she proud of her decision? She may wish she could give her first born a birthday kiss. This makes me feel sad. Sad beyond words.

Also, in Gonder, is a lovely older lady, the birth mother's great aunt, who took Zadie to Bridge of Hope. She was brave. She was selfless. She was strong. This beautiful lady chose the name "Hayat" which we will honor by keeping it as her middle name. Hayat means "long life". I know she had hopes and dreams for the beautiful little baby she relinquished nearly one year ago. This make me feel responsible.

Today at Primrose, my work/Zadie's school, we had our annual celebrating cultures day. Zadie wore the dress given to her by her "special mother" at the coffee ceremony at the Gladney foster care centers. Last time she wore it, we were in Ethiopia. We were just getting to know the precious little lady. This makes me nostalgic.

So, as I sit here, thinking about Zadie's birthday, the emotions are running rampant. I look forward to celebrating her life with family and friends tomorrow. I hope we never forget all of the little "miracles" that had to happen to bring us together.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Can you believe it? Last Friday was our 2nd post-adoption visit with our social worker. To put your minds at ease, these two visits have been a breeze. Out social worker wants to see Zadie, asks a list of questions, chats for a bit and then she's off. Of course, I go into a teeny tiny frenzy each time she's set to come. Guess it's only human, right?

So, now we are setting off into the world of readoption. Readoption a process that will make Zadie a US citizen, with all rights and responsibilities. She came in to the US with a visa and was given a green card a few weeks later (and may I say, the passport, visa and green card photos are the CUTEST things I have EVER seen!).

To be honest, I am BURNT out on paperwork. I can't seem to scrounge up enough energy to start this process. You guys remember the chasing, the organization, the notarizing, the never ending pile of papers!!! I heard one lady call it the "paper pregnancy". Dang, that's right!

You guys who are now traveling two times will (I am pretty sure) be able to skip this process. Good for you!

But, here we go. This has GOT to be less painful than the initial paper chase, right????

By the way, Zadie is WALKING!!!! All over the place. Like she owns the world. And we will celebrate her first birthday this month. Updates on that later.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The House is a Mess; Our Home is Complete

How do they do it? Really. You know, those moms who have a full time job, a spic and span house, dinner on the table every evening and still manage to wear makeup. Don't tell anyone, but I kinda hate them.

I haven't cooked one meal this week. Tonight I actually called the pizza people from work with a delivery that arrived about 3 minutes after I walked in the door. Not so long ago I planned menus, cooked every night and put laundry away within 24 hours of completing it.

But, can I tell you - I am happier than ever. Who cares that we are housebound after 7pm because Zadie is asleep by then? Who cares that we may never see a first run movie until she is 5 years old?

Zadie is such a stinker. A little character. Her smile makes this mess a home.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Changes on the Horizon

We've had our first post-adoption visit from our social worker. It was a breeze. She was in and out and very kind and uplifting. It seems that she followed that post- adoption paperwork that Gladney sent, asked the questions and then met Zadie (who slept through nearly the entire meeting!).

The one thing that came out of the meeting has been a dread of my going back to work. Let me clarify - when I say go back to work, I mean, to the preschool that I help run where Zadie will attend. She will literally be 20 feet from my desk in her first classroom, but it seems like it will 200 miles away. She and I have spent nearly every waking moment together since April 26th. We eat together. We laugh together. We play together. We nap together.

Back to the social worker - She just reminded me that I should get Zadie used to the new classroom. I know this. When I tour and enroll new families, I tell them this. You know - "She needs to understand that you trust the teachers." etc. But for some reason, I had not been following through. We have been to my school at least once a week since our return. But I hadn't made a point to let the teacher help her up when she falls or to feed her. It's so strange, but NO one has fed her since we met except for me, Charlie and a few bites from her cousin. And now she will eat lunch everyday with a few other babies. So, I think it may even be more important for her to know that Ms. Shannon is a very nice lady who can take care of you while mommy is away.

You know, it's kinda like the doctor who smokes - it's hard to take your own advice.

I think I am struggling with the new mindset. We have been working so hard on attaching. She definitely knows that I am her mommy and that Charlie is her daddy. We have been insanely protective of bath times, feeding times and bed times. We want her to understand that this is her home, and we are her family. And now she is going to spend the better part of her day with teachers and friends. In other words, I have to share my little treasure!

Don't get me wrong - I believe in our school. I think the children who spend time with us are prepared for kindergarten, for life. They are problem solvers, thinkers and sharers.

But this attaching time has been precious. So precious. I treasure every laugh, every feeding, every poopy diaper. I treasure every moment at the pool, every dance we've danced.

And now, I enlist the teachers' help in making our little Zadie Hayat even more confident, thoughtful and ready to be what she was meant to be! (Oh, I and I will be watching and listening from my desk ;) )

Sunday, June 27, 2010

2 months as a family (and a little reflection)

As we celebrate the 2 month anniversary of being a family, I find myself looking back to Ethiopia. A family who is traveling for court and another family traveling to bring their son home have agreed to carry some photos and cards to the children at the orphanges and to the in-country staff.

While I has looking through the MILLION photos we have of children at the orphanages, my heart was breaking. The young men at Kolfe were amazing. Polite, thoughtful, ambitious. I told one boy at Kolfe that he had very good English. He said, "No ma'am. I don't. I need to practice." Then I responded, "Have you heard my Amharic?" Seriously, his English was spot on! He wanted to work to be an engineer. Their dreams inspire me!

At the younger children's orphanage, my heart was won by one little, filthy, stinky boy who only had the use of one arm. (He's in the photo above - we can't show faces of the children in the orphanages). I would guess he was 4 years old. One of the ladies in our group was passing out candy. She gave him a lollipop, and having one arm, he couldn't open it. I knelt to open his candy for him, and that was it - we were bonded. He held my hand. I carried him. He laughed. Somehow he got another piece of candy. And, while we were touring the facility, one little girl was lying in bed. I am not sure that she could get up, but her face was smiley and beautiful. My little friend willingly gave her his second piece of candy because she didn't get one. Our hearts broke. This little guy has nothing. Looking through the photos today, I see that his shoes were worn out and probably 2 sizes too big. His pants were probably two sizes too short and about 100 years old. But he gave away a treasure!

Then, as we were leaving, this little guy followed us to the car. He held onto me so tightly. We hugged and kissed. Then hugged and kissed some more. One of workers had to pry his hand off mine. Then he just sat down and bawled, I mean broken hearted wailing. Driving away, my heart broke. I think of his very often, and the photos broke my heart today.

We saw so much loss. So much need. So many little faces who just want a family.

As we were touring the baby room, which was desolate - way too many babies, many without diapers, in a small room, Travis reminded us of the story of the starfish. You know the one - the little boy throws starfish back in the ocean. Someone told him to give it up, that his efforts don't matter. And he replied, "It matters to the one I threw back."

Boy, are we thankful for Zadie Hayat. She loves us. We love her. We laugh together. She comes to me for comfort. In a public place, she holds tighter to her mother. I mean, we are thankful for the progress she has made. I hope we are wise as we continue our attachment. I just really want what's best for the little piece of love.

But, I can't stop thinking about all of those children. All of that need. What is my responsibility? The question haunts me.