To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

After months of anticipation, I finally got to see Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" on opening day!  This, of course, was a monumental moment for Disney princess-kind since this movie was the first to feature black royalty (both Prince Naveen and the destined-to-become Princess Tiana). 

As soon as I heard about the movie, I thought about how fun it would be to take Baby C to go see it.  Of course, depending on her age, she may not be fully cognizant of why the movie is so socially important; but it was so cute, she certainly enjoy it nonetheless!

In spite of the historic implications of the characters in regards to race, what I appreciated most about the movie was the fact that race didn't really come up at all, in the sense that it was not overtly mushed in one's face.  True, the young Tiana does befriend the spoiled, rich white Southern-belle-in-making, Charlotte, who  constantly demands gifts and favors from the willingly manipulated "Big Daddy" (her fabulously wealthy father); however, the film does not really explore the often dark and horribly unbalanced nature of such relationships historically.  Instead, Tiana and Charlotte (Lottie) seem to be able to forge a true friendship as they grow older even though their socio-economic statuses should have separated them long ago. 

The more serious undertones aside, the main message of the film centers on Tiana's dream of opening her own restaurant, just like her beloved, deceased father always wanted.  She works several jobs and long hours to save up the money for a down-payment on the building she and her father always wanted to refurbish.  The only problem is that all of Tiana's hard work is keeping her from the most important thing life has to offer: love.

I won't spoil the ending for those of you who haven't seen it, but suffice it to say that in the end, Tiana learns that with love and determination, you truly can have all that your heart desires.  It was a wonderful lesson for viewers of all ages - never give up on your dreams, but also never lose sight of what is truly important while you chase those dreams (friends, family, love, happiness).

While it was fun for me to watch my first Disney movie in over a decade, it would have been amazing to watch the movie with a child.  In fact, all of the little kids in the theatre with us seemed to be reveling in the story and especially the music.  It was fun to hear them squeal in delight and laugh at the jokes.

Later, I found a chart of sorts of all of the Disney princesses; it was so cool to see nearly every hair and eye color combination represented (something I really love about the fabulous "American Girl" doll and book collection).  My hope is that in the future, race will be a fully transparent issue; that have an African American or Asian or redhead or Native American, etc. lead character won't be of any importance whatsoever; because we will not think of one another in the color spectrum to begin with.  This is only the beginning!

So, to any and all considering watching this movie; I give you a whole-hearted "Go for it!"  And check out the "princess chart" below - very cool!

Blessings and Love,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Making the Right Decision

With 2010 fast approaching, many adoption advocates have been encouraging those of us who are contemplating adoption, as well as those who have already adopted, to contact our state's representatives and Senators to encourage them to vote in favor of keeping the current tax credit for adoptive parents that is set to expire on January 1st in only a couple short months.

I have been doing my part to spread the word to those around me; and I also contacted Missouri's politicians, including Senator Claire McCaskill.  Surprisingly, she e-mailed me back with some really kind words about adoption; however, something she said really bothered me, "1,800 kids" in Missouri are awaiting adoption while "over 9,600" are in foster care.


This is Missouri alone!  Multiply that times 50 states (many of which probably have even more children awaiting adoption/in foster care) and suddenly you are looking at a staggering amount of American children who have no homes, no families.  I instantly started thinking, "Are we making the right decision?"  When we chose international adoption to start our family, we did so under the advice of many couples who had suffered through botched adoptions right here in our own country - children taken back by their (often inadequate or abusive) biological families, pregnant mothers who "changed their minds", courts siding again and again with a verdict of "biological is best".

It was all too much to hear let alone contemplate enduring.  I couldn't imagine bringing a child into our home and caring for them and loving them only to have them yanked away from me.  It would just be too painful to even imagine.

With international adoption, the adoptive parents can have much more confidence in the process of bringing their child home.  Most of this is due to the fact that adoptions abroad are finalized.  The biological parents are often not even known, let alone involved in the process of their child being adopted.  In many cases, especially in Ethiopia, the child is a true orphan, often due to diseases such as AIDS taking their parents' lives.  This is different than in countries like China where many "orphans" are not truly orphaned (as in their parents are deceased), but rather that they were abandoned by parents who could not afford to care for them or that they were not the desired gender (ie: they are female).

Overall, when adopting from overseas, parents don't have to worry about their children being taken from them or the biological parents (if alive) even being able to find them  let alone trying to contact their child.  This is good and bad, in my opinion (after all, I have a mother who was adopted who searched her whole life to find her biological mother and father, only to discover that her mother was foreign and had passed away before she had a chance to meet her, and to get absolutely no information on her father).

All things considered, I looked at international adoption as a way to ensure that our child would truly be ours, no strings attached.  Even though there are health and travel and safety concerns connected with Ethiopian adoption, somehow they paled in comparison to the possibility of having our child taken away from us.

So, why did the news of the children waiting in my own state bother me so much?  Why was I suddenly questioning our decision to adopt from abroad?

To make matters even more confusing, my mother was visiting us when she received a phone call from her best friend in Iowa (I'll call her "Aunt D").  Aunt D works in childcare both out of her home and at the church that she has attended with my parents for almost 30 years.  My youngest sister had recently accompanied my mother to Iowa to help with the churches' vacation Bible study, working with the toddlers.

They had come back with lots of photos of the adorable little kids doing their projects, learning Bible verses, and making and eating sloppy snacks - precious.  One little girl, they called their "little bird".  "Bird" was notably small for her age of nearly two, she hardly spoke, and was always poorly dressed and in need of a clean diaper.  Needless to say, she was adorable, and everyone involved thought she was so cute.

Which was why my mom was so disturbed when Aunt D called while she was visiting us here in Missouri.  It turns out that "Bird's" mom is a junkie.  Not only that, but she recently dropped Bird off at one of Aunt D's friends who lives in the same town as her who also works in childcare and had not come back - it had been three days.

Even worse, when Bird showed up at this lady's house, her diaper had not been changed in probably three days; and it was suspected that she had not been fed in as many days as well.  I was instantly heartbroken.  Aunt D went on to say that Bird had been passed on to local authorities to be put up for adoption, but that her young mother (I have no idea where her father is in all of this) had suddenly reappeared and was demanding an open adoption.

This was just one more thing making me feel guilty about my decision to adopt from Ethiopia, when right here in front of me, not but 600 miles away was a child in desperate need of a safe and loving home.  Bird was not a statistic or photo in a pamphlet or on an infomercial, she is a real-life child that was close enough for me to drive to, to take home with me.

My mind was racing...should we go get her?  Is this a sign from God?  Is Bird supposed to be our daughter?  What's the right answer?  Oh, how I wished God would just audibly speak to me and tell me what to do!

After talking to Dear Husband about the situation, I just couldn't help but burst into tears.  I felt as though everything I'd been thinking and planning was wrong.  I felt so guilty.  How could I possibly abandon all of these children in America by choosing to go elsewhere to adopt?  I felt extreme guilt.  I felt selfish.

Dear Husband kept telling me that there is not "right" and "wrong", only what is right for us and our family at the time that we are making the decision.  While I know he's right, I still feel guilty.  I still question whether or not we're making the right decision.  I've actually started looking into domestic adoption more to become better educated on the process.  I have no idea if we're making the right decision, I don't even know if there is a "right decision"; I only know what seems to be "right" for us at this moment.  I truly wonder what God has in store for our future...

Wondering and Praying,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adoption Apparel - Good or Bad?

The day before our anniversary trip this past weekend, my "Adopting Africa" t-shirt came in the mail!  It's super cute, and I just love it!  But, it really got me it such a good thing to be advertising my adoption?  By this, I mean what are people thinking when they read those words across my pink t-shirt?

I stood in line at a local eatery in Nashville, TN with my new shirt on when I noticed a large African American family in front of me (it looked like two sets of parents with children aged 5 or 6 up to perhaps 16).  The younger kids were a little fussy; so, one of the mothers sat on a bench near us with them.  At one point, I caught her eying my shirt with a quizzical brow; and suddenly, my pride in wearing it fell away...I started thinking, "What is she thinking?"

What are people thinking?  Do they think I'm pretentious?  Just another yuppie, white woman doing a "trendy" international adoption like some celebrity starlet who doesn't really seem to care or know about world events or issues?

Do they think I'm doing a good thing?  Do they think I'm "saving" some sick, defenseless, poverty-stricken child - that I'm a "good Samaritan"?  Do they admire me?

All of this worries me.  Whether kind and empathetic or skeptical and disapproving, an outsider's opinion of what my husband and I are doing is probably completely inaccurate.

We're not "saviors" relieving a child from "darkness" and "doom" (although, yes, at times the environment that the child comes from may not be the best the world has to offer).  We're also not adopting to bring attention to ourselves or to follow in Angelina Jolie, Madonna, or Katherine Heigl's footsteps.  We want a family, and we want to include an adopted child in that family, because we believe that's what God wants for us - end of story.

There is also the opinion that mothers of adopted children shouldn't readily or overtly "tell" their adopted child's "story" (how they were adopted and from where and why and when, etc.).  It is the common belief in adoption circles that this will be the child's information to share or not in the future.

So, by wearing a t-shirt practically exclaiming the fact that we're adopting from Africa, am I giving away too much?  Am I somehow betraying my future child's story?  Am I doing something wrong?

On one hand, I get angry and answer my own question: NO!  Why is wrong for an adopted mother to be excited and tell her child's story?  When a biological mother shares how her child was born in a birth story or tells a passing stranger a little about him or her when in passing they stop to "ooh" and "aww" over them, is that somehow "too much"?  Why is different for an adopted child?  Why aren't the same standards held for biological parent/child relationship?

This child will be MY child; so, why do I have to treat our relationship so differently?  Wouldn't all of these "rules" for adoptive parents just cause more issues with the adopted parent/child relationship?  Why can't I just treat my adopted child like my child and not worry about the fact that she'll look different (because, honestly, that will be the only indicator that she's not biologically mine)?

When a woman is pregnant, she can wear a big, bold shirt declaring that she is "cooking something" or "she's with cutie (arrow pointing to big belly)" or just regular maternity clothes; but the reaction from the public is not usually one of questioning or disapproval. It wouldn't be the norm to have a stranger look this woman up and down with a skeptical eye thinking, "Why is she pregnant?"  Nobody asks what her motivation is or whether she's trying to keep up with her friends or save a marriage or something else equally ridiculous or hurtful.  But there, wearing my adoption t-shirt, being analyzed (whether ruefully or not) by a stranger, I suddenly felt as if I needed to defend myself.  And I hated that feeling.

I let those feelings swelter in me when later it happened, a lady asked me what my shirt meant.  I got to explain what my husband and I were doing, tell her where I ordered the shirt, and most importantly, I got to talk about the severe need for food, supplies, medical support and more in Ethiopia and all across Africa.  She was not offended.  She did not attack my motivation.  She was congenial and interested and in the end even thanked me for reminding her of how lucky we are here in America.


I realized in that moment, that our adoption will be our adoption.  We will raise our child(ren) to look beyond the colors of our skin to only see love and family and togetherness.  If I want to talk about my child (where she's from, when we brought her home, where she's ethnically from, etc.), I'll talk about it; if I don't, I won't.  She will be my child; so, it will be my prerogative.  Moreover, if people want to be ignorant or angry or offended, they will always be so.  No amount of information will likely change their minds.

And, I need to remember that not every person I encounter is going to be skeptical or judgmental about adoption.  Many people are merely interested.  I can't always be on the defensive; because when I am like that, I am more likely to push people away, when I need to be open and inviting so that I can spread the correct information about adoption and adoption issues to those who are genuinely curious.

So, it's not the last of my baby pink "Adopting Africa" t-shirt!  Next time I wear it, I'll make sure to stand a little taller! :) much love,

My super cute African adoption t-shirt!  To get one of your own, click the "Adopting Africa" button here on the right-hand side of my blog! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Happy Time!

Since we're going to be leaving in a couple of days, I thought I'd go ahead and blog about this...our anniversary!  Sunday will officially be one year.  One small year.  One small, full, lovely, wonderful, perfect year of wedded bliss!  This is an important milestone in our marriage; but it's also important, because it makes us officially eligible to adopt from Ethiopia (one year of marriage is the minimum)!  So, super exciting!

I am so blessed to have had this man in my life for over 3 years!  I know what my life was like before him, and I would never want to go back to a world without him!  When I called out for God to answer my prayers for a soul-mate and best friend, he answered them ten-fold!  I have the perfect person for me in my life until the day we die; what more could I ask for?

He's so wonderful and kind and selfless with me and just about everyone he meets, I know he's going to be such a fantastic father one day soon!

I was trying to remember exactly what I was thinking and feeling a year ago today, but it was all so fast and crazy (it was our wedding and my mother was violently ill fighting endometrial cancer) that I only remember bits and pieces.  All I know is that we had the most beautiful autumn day bestowed upon us!  It was bright and sunny, even a little warm (which was a surprise since it was Iowa in October!); but the whole day was absolutely perfect to us!

To my darling husband (Mr. C), I look forward to years and years of happiness shared with you!  I cannot believe we've journeyed through one year already; time with you is so wonderful, time seems to fly!  There will never be enough time with you!  My heart is complete, because of your heart!  Me loves you so, so much forever and always!

I'm going to leave you all with some of my favorite pictures from our wedding!

Blessings and So Much Love,

Mr. C checkin' himself in the mirror before the ceremony!  Soo handsome! :)

Mommy and me!  She was such a trooper even though she felt so poorly that day (we found out she had endometrial cancer the very next week)!

Walking to our ceremony!  You can really see my red shoes here!

On the theatre stage saying the last of our vows...almost man and wife!

First kiss as Mr. and Mrs. C!!!

Dancing the night and our lives away!  My dream come true!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Contemplating a Montessori Nursery

When I was in college, I used to drive down this quaint, little street on my way to the whole foods grocery store.  In that cute neighborhood, I noticed a brown building surrounded by beautiful flowers with a fenced-in backyard that looked just like a cottage out of a storybook.  The sign outside read "Montessori Day and Pre-School"; and at the time I thought, "What's that?"

I started doing my research and discovered that "Montessori" is the surname of Italian teacher and child development psychologist, Maria Montessori.  Her name is famous world-wide for her innovative teaching techniques that are based on the concept of "following the child".  In that, the phrase means to literally cater to the child's mind as it grows and expands developmentally and physically.

Montessori schools allow children a wide variety of freedoms while also requiring quite a bit of responsibility.  To me, it's sort of the opposite of "tradition" in America (in schools and households, for the most part).  Traditionally, (and this could all be only my opinion) children would be given strict guidelines and rules to follow, then they would be taught to stay within those confines on penalty of punishment.  In Montessori, the goal would be that the child would naturally develop the ability to see what restrictions to put on themselves through creative problem-solving and reaching out and interacting independently in their environment.

As someone who was raised in a strict household and attended an equally rule-based private school most of my younger life, these concepts can seem almost shocking to me at times; however, I am still very much interested in sending our future child/children to a Montessori school.  I can see both sides of the story, so to speak, and I am leaning more and more towards Montessori.

The best thing is that we even have the option!  Dear Hubby and I had already decided to send Baby C. to one of 6 elementary schools within the Catholic school district in a close-by town, only to learn that at least one of them is completely Montessori-based!  This was really exciting to us; which prompted the next question, "Should we make her bedroom 'Montessori' as well?"

Yes, you can use the Montessori concepts to arrange and decorate your baby/toddler's nursery!  So, do I want to try this at home?  Some of the concepts have me squirming (like babies sleeping on the floor on a very thin mattress!  What about bugs?!); while many of the others sound amazing!

There are tons of resources out there online and in the library for the parent who is interested in learning how to create a Montessori room for their child, but here are some of the basic concepts that every Montessori room should be based upon:

1. Create a Soft Color Palate: the idea here is that bright, primary colors (including stark blacks and whites) are sensory overload to an infant/toddler.  One should keep the room full of soft, inviting pastels or warm neutrals that make the baby feel at ease and free of stress.

2. Subtle Fabrics: fabrics used should match the over-all color scheme of the room to teach the child symmetry (keep the curtains and bedding matching, for example).  Texturally, they should be soft and comfortable to the child's touch.

3. Simple Furniture: all furniture should be beautiful yet functional.  It's even better if the child him/herself can use the furniture without significant help from an adult (ideally, without any help at all).  Over-crowding a room with useless pieces should be avoided at all costs!  The whole concept should be that every piece functions together, and every piece matters!

4. Sparse Wall Treatments: anything placed on the wall should be important and purposeful (nice posters of animals or alphabets, or framed works of art, some made by the child?, etc.) and the walls should be kept minimal and uncluttered.  Artwork and mirrors (parents are highly encouraged to place mirrors in the child's room so they can watch themselves move physically, whether it be merely learning to roll over and crawl or learning to dance to a rhythm) should be placed at the child's eye-level.

5. Lots of Organization:  again, the idea is to create independence, self-awareness, and a sense of responsibility in a tiny person; so, to encourage the child to put his/her toys away by him/herself at a very early age, the tools all need to be in the right p;lace!  So, shelving and boxes and trays should be plentiful and should be located close to the ground; so, they are easily within reach of the child.

I especially love the idea of there being lots of "stations" in the child's room for different activities.  For example, there should always be a small table and chair set with art supplies nearby for the child to create on and with.  It would also be good to have an area for them to work with musical instruments and another for books and a nice fluffy pillow to curl up on.

I've seen some really good examples of Montessori baby and toddler rooms, but I recently found some pictures of one that belongs to a little boy named Vincent.  I found these pictures of  I thought this pictures did a really good job of showing what I am trying to explain.

Here you can see Vincent's sleeping mat.  This is the main thing that I guess "freaks" me out about Montessori rooms, the fact that the child sleeps on the floor; however, my Dear Husband seems completely NOT bothered by this.  So, maybe I could get used to this with a little more encouragement from him???

A broader view of the room.  You can see the tiny table/chair setup and the small shelves set up; so Vincent can put his own supplies and toys away.

A "floor" or "childlike" view of some of the shorter shelves that help Vincent keep his room clean.  I also LOVE the fluffy rug!  It looks so inviting and comfy; I bet any child would have a blast just rolling around on it, especially a baby just learning to roll over and crawl!

A bird's eye view of those same shelves from the picture above.  You can really get a good look at some of the artwork on the wall now.

More shelving (and a mirror!) by the work table/chairs.

A short, fun rack of hooks; so, toddler learns to put things away but is entertained as well!

Another wide-view of the room...the more I see it, the more I love it!

So, do I have to guts to commit to this style of nursery?  I think I do!  Even DH is excited about this style of room; which, in turn, makes me feel even more confident!  I'd love to do whatever necessary to give Baby C. a good opportunity in life; and I'm beginning to think that a Montessori room and early education might be a good place to start!

Toys are a big part of the Montessori teaching method as well.  There are sooo many stores that carry the "learning" toys that are encouraged.  Here are some wooden toys by Pink House Handworks that I found on another blog that looked super cute!

You can check out all of the Montessori toys Pink House makes on their Etsy store here:

 Another aspect of the Montessori room that seemed to be stressed over and again, was that of creating responsibility in the child - making them aware of their surroundings and what is "best" and "right".  So, for example, teach them that cleaning up their toys or putting their clothes away will make their room easier to live in and therefore more enjoyable for playing.  I was thinking of ways to make cleaning up and putting clothes away "fun" when I found the site  These people are so inventive and just plain cool!  The cabinets are AMAZING!  I would love to get Baby C. the "Beaver" or "Carrot" or "Mrs. Pearson" (heck, ANY of them would be wonderful!) for her room one day!

Well, I've definitely got a lot to consider and think about when it comes to whether or not I'm going to jump in and make Baby C.'s room a true Montessori space; but I feel much more confident that if DH and I decide to go this route that we'll be on the right track to doing a bang-up job of it!

If you're interested in more information on Maria Montessori or her teaching methods, you can visit Wikipedia's excellent articles on her here and here  You can also go straight to the Montessori method website here: where they also have a way to locate a Montessori school near you!

Blessings and Love,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Adoption IS My First Choice, Thank You!

When my husband and I decided (waaaaay back when we were dating) that we really, truly did and were going to adopt one day soon, I began looking around for blogs and books and articles - anything! - that was written about adoption, especially those that were written by adoptive parents of adoptees themselves.  I've found some simply amazing books and articles; and, overall, I've found many of the insights very helpful and genuinely interesting.

Yesterday, at Barnes and Noble (, I was in the "adoption" section, as usual, when I found Labor of the Heart by Kathleen L. Whitten, Ph.D.  While I've only just begun reading her book, I feel that Dr. Whitten is assuming that adoptive parents are in a similar situation as herself - choosing adoption after a long, emotionally-painful struggle with infertility.  She is constantly referring to the need to work through the "anger" and "pain" and "disappointment" (even with God, if you are religious) that comes with being forced to turn to adoption in order to become a parent.

While I understand that infertility does force many couples to turn to adoption, Dr. Whitten seems to be completely ignorant to the fact that there are many of us who choose adoption first.  It's as though it's hard for her to see anyone's attitude toward adoption as anything outside of her own personal experiences and emotions.

Toward the beginning of the book, she mentions that she thinks that people (like my husband and I) who do choose adoption first, are only able to think thusly, because they/we have personal experience(s) with adoption in our lives.  Honestly, I do realize that my mother being adopted has made me more aware of adoption as a whole; however, I cannot say that her experience alone is enough to make me want to adopt.  I have been exposed to adoption through a cousin, friends, and more.  I suppose there's no way to prove that I would have wanted to adopt without these personal "brushes" with adoption; but I'd like to believe that my heart has always been open to people and things who need homes and love.

As a child, if I found an animal that was hurt or alone on our farm, I would always take it in and try to help it.  I was also known as the child who would talk to the children who were left out of "normal" social interaction at preschool and kindergarten because they had this or that ailment, handicap, etc.  (My best friend in preschool was a boy who had a cleft lip which horrified the other kids in our classroom.)  For this gift of compassion, I thank my parents.  They were constantly helping troubled teenagers through an organization called "Youth for Christ" back in the 80's and 90's.  There was a sense that one should tend to people with kindness and caring.

I feel it is mainly for these reasons that I feel drawn to adoption as a means to motherhood.  I choose adoption, not out of pain and suffering and loss, but out of joy.  I choose it first.

This isn't to say that don't want to have biological children one day; but how my children come to me isn't as important to me as the fact that they have come to me.  There's much more to come in Dr. Whitten's book; and I don't mean to pick on her, every person's experience is their own.  I suppose her telling her own experience has only made me stronger and more attached to my own decisions.

Be Blessed, *mandie*

Labor Pains of the Heart

Outside is all misty and wet.  It has been a deluge all day; the same inside my heart...

I recently started reading the book Labor of the Heart by Dr. Kathleen Whitten, a psychologist and adoptive mom of a girl from Vietnam.  I've read lots of memoirs and personal accounts of adoption; so, I thought this was going to be a similar experience for me.  But Whitten is not just writing to remember or exorcise some necessary emotions of her own, she has written this book to help - better yet, force - the future adoptive parent to really evaluate his/her thoughts and emotions along the journey of adoption.

Honestly, upon reading the first chapter, I was almost angry.  Whitten is constantly referring to the sadness and loss of biological parenthood.  In a sense, it seemed that she was saying that adoption is only logically a last resort, not a first choice.  To someone like me, who is choosing adoption first, it was more than a little off-putting to hear the process stated in such a way.  Although Whitten obviously has a very specific point of view having herself been through several rounds of botched IVF, I think at first I was missing the more important themes that she was touching upon.

What really caught me were the discussions of sadness and grief, anger, guilt, shame, and fear.  Specifically, she is speaking to those who have had to come to terms with the loss of pregnancies (not only miscarriages, but perhaps even still births), loss of fertility, loss of hope, loss of options.  When all of these are taken away from you as a potential parent, I'm sure it's simply devastating.  But, still I was at a kind of loss - I'm choosing adoption first, I have no idea where my fertility stands.  It could be great, it could be in trouble, who knows?  My husband and I aren't trying to get pregnant; we're waiting for our adopted child.

I almost put the book down when I started reading about fear and anger.  It dawned on me, that although I'm not dealing with adoption in terms of loss like she and so many other women are; but that I still had so much to deal with emotionally when it came to grief and anger and fear and worry.

The problem with adoption is that often the people surrounding you don't know how to act or what to say or do.  This is a process that will at least take months and at most take years upon years.  When a woman is pregnant, you see her belly getting bigger, her clothes getting tighter.  Everything is affected in a very outward way - it's visible and tangible.

From the outside viewer, adoption is entirely internal.  I think this can be a very dangerous thing for potential parents.  It's stressful enough to be expecting a child, but imagine never having the comfort of a due-date, an ultrasound, or even (in many cases) a gender!  Forget about painting nursery walls and buying diapers, all of those variables could all change within a moment's notice!

While I read Dr. Whitten's words, I realized that I had been struggling with all of these things.  Not that I was having to grieve loss of previous pregnancy per se; but that I was angry with my situation and circumstances, because they were/are keeping me from my daughter.  Once I was truly able to be honest with myself, I could feel all of the emotions I had been bottling up for (literally) years overflowing in my heart.

So much pain...  The pain of separation.  The pain of knowing that, unlike my own mother, my daughter will likely never be able to track down her birth family at any point in her life.  The pain and loss of my own biological grandmother...watching my mother search and search for her for decades.  The pain of feeling as though I was not important enough for her to even know.  It is worse for my mother, I know; but that does not mean that I don't feel abandoned too.  So, I worry thusly for my future daughter; how can I help her get through that pain?

Then anger.  Anger at my circumstances; anger even at God at times(which makes me ashamed).  Why hasn't he allowed me to find the path that I need to take to have success?  I feel stunted.  I feel as though I've been in limbo for years.  I'm at a point career-wise and life-wise that I wanted to be at a decade ago.  If I were further along in my career (and in life in general), I would be able to bring my daughter home more quickly - possibly within months.  Oh the anger...oh the shame.

I'm ashamed...ashamed for many of the reasons that I'm angry.  Perhaps it's my fault nothing is going the way I want it to - No! the way I need it to go!  What could I have done better along this path?  So much that needs to be done; I just keep missing the mark.  What kind of mother could I possibly be?

Which brings me to worry.  If a woman is pregnant, she can have an ultrasound.  She can see the baby growing inside of her.  If there are medical and health concerns, she and her partner can plan for them, get used to them, get ready to fight them and work through them.  In adoption, you have no idea what you're up against.

Will my child be healthy?  Will  he/she be able to bond to me?  What if they don't like me?  What if Ethiopia changes it's fees, their age limits, their policies - what if they decide to not allow international adoption anymore at all???  What will I do then?

International adoption policy is constantly changing.  Every country has their own rules, their own standards and practices.  When we were advised to consider another country due to China's extended waiting lists (8 years, 10 years and more!), political unrest, and social disapproval of "excessive" American adoption of Chinese children (within China), I think I went into a sort of protective mode for my heart.  I was extremely disappointed.  Did we have an LID yet?  No.  It's not as if I accepted a referral or held a photo of a child in my hands or anything even remotely close to that, but I was attached.  My heart was in China.  I had read several books about Chinese culture and memoirs of Americans who had adopted (sometimes several times) from there as well.  I had tracked down (through no easy means either!) an Asian Cabbage Patch doll on Ebay...I was preparing, I was "nesting".

In a sense, I was pregnant.  I was pregnant in my heart with this adorable little Chinese toddler who was going to be mine.  Then, as quickly as she had been placed in my heart and mind, she was gone.  Like a puff of smoke, she vanished.  It really was like having a miscarriage.  I felt totally lost.

To make matters worse, it seemed as though every other option was quickly being shut down to us as well.  Korea was in much the same state as China.  Russia was getting bad reviews by adoptive parents due to the supposed bad health and mistreatment of their children, resulting in general bad blood in adoption relations between our country and theirs.  Guatemala had to completely shut their program down due to an alleged epidemic in baby laundering.  Colombia was said to be "out of the question", as was Mexico.  What's left?  Rwanda and Ethiopia.  Of course, each of these countries are plagued by health concerns such as HIV, AIDS, HEP, and TB - so much power and worry and pain and death in those tiny, little abbreviations.  We continue to worry, what if the medical tests are done incorrectly?  What if my child is dying of HIV or AIDS, and we don't even know it?!  How can we possibly afford to care for our child then?  Or worse, what if they die before we even know what's happening?

But then, before we can even look over the details and make a decision, we get a phone call from the agency not but two weeks later saying that Rwanda has changed their rules; so, we're not eligible, won't be for at least five years.  Hmmm, my husband will be over 40 at that time.  What to do, what to do?

So, Ethiopia it is!  Don't take this the wrong way, it's not as if Ethiopia is a "last resort", we're absolutely thrilled to be adopting from this country!  In fact, I really feel that God has answered my prayers by "forcing" us to choose Ethiopia.  (And again, I don't mean "forcing" in a negative way, I only mean that it is the only country option available to us now.)  I pray daily that God will "place his hand upon my head and turn me the direction he will have me go."  In this way, I know that he will lead me to the people I need to meet, I will encounter the situations I am supposed to encounter, and I will have a better chance of fulfilling his perfect destiny for my life.

I feel as though he has done this for me in leading us to Ethiopia.  International adoption can be confusing and overwhelming.  Choosing a country is one of the hardest and most important decisions.  We chose China, because there seemed to be a huge need for adoption; but there is a huge need in Ethiopia too.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that my daughter is from Ethiopia, and that God wants us to be together for always.  He's made sure of it by making certain that my husband and I can go nowhere else for our international adoption - it's fate.

This blog is rambling on, I know; so, I'll try to sum things up!

I suppose what I'm trying to say in all of this is that Dr. Whitten struck a nerve with me.  I thought I was strong, and that in a sense I had no right to be upset when things went wrong in this adoption journey - after all, there have been couples enduring through this process for years upon years and we've only just begun, right?  But I realize now that I was wrong.  The adoption journey is a type of pregnancy, and it's MY pregnancy!  So, I have the right to be hurt when things don't work out and worried when laws or country relations go awry or anything else along the journey!

It felt so good to cry and cry and just get these emotions out!  I had never realized how much they were bogging down my heart and spirit or how much pain I had been in getting to this point.

If you are on the adoption journey too, just know that you're not alone.  It's so very hard at times to keep your head up and fight through; but in the end, just as in a biological pregnancy and labor, "it's all worth it"!

I don't know if these labor pains of the heart will go away throughout the process or if I'll feel them until the day I'm holding my daughter in my arms; but at least now I feel justified in feeling them.  That alone is like an epidural to my soul!

Blessings and Love,

Dr. Kathleen Whitten's book (above) can be ordered through Barnes and Noble Booksellers here:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sloe Gin Fizz Give-Away Contest on Spearmint Baby!

I LOVE the blog Spearmint Baby (!  In fact, I'm sure I've mentioned her on here before...okay, I've definitely mentioned her before!  Ha!

ANYWAY, she's always posting these amazing give-away contests for everything from jewelry to artwork to fun baby nursery goodies and baby clothes - just awesome stuff!

This time, she's giving away a free "Balloon Animals" print by Sloe Gin Fizz by Nicole Ray.  It's an absolutely adorable print that I think would look great in a boy or girl nursery...or even my craft room???  :)

Here's a picture of the print:

How cute is this, right?!

Make sure you stop by Nicole Ray's "Sloe Gin Fizz" shop on Etsy ( or Papernstich ( where you can also buy her goodies!


Blessings and Hugs,

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Good Hair"

So, I follow the blog "Black Girl with Long Hair" to get information about caring for my future daughter's African hair.  She has TONS of fab ideas and reviews everything from shampoos and conditioners to balms and butters.  It's absolutely invaluable to people like my husband and I, who will soon be charged with not only caring for our Ethiopian daughter's hair; but also caring for her attitude toward it.

I personally LOVE African hair!  I love the texture, the colors, the curl!  *SIGH*  To die for!  Of course, it's always greener on the other side, right?  Although we're white, my youngest sister has immensely curly hair, always has.  I have always loved her hair, but it took her nearly 20 years to come to terms with/and become friends with her naturally curly hair.

BGLH posted a blog not long ago about Chris Rock's new documentary called "Good Hair" - a film showing at the Sundance Film Festival about black women's relationship with their hair.  (As a little side-note, he supposedly got the idea when his tiny, little daughter came and asked him, "Daddy, why don't I have good hair?"  Heartbreaking, right?)  It sounds hilarious and informative and looks like it's going to be just awesome!  I'm hoping to go see it in the theatre, but I want to get a copy on DVD for Baby C. one day!!!!  I hope it will be something we can watch together and laugh about and talk about.  I just want her to know that I think her natural hair is beautiful, and I hope she will too.

I've posted the trailer for "Good Hair" below - enjoy!  It looks amazing!

Blessings, Love, and Hugs,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Disney's Princess Tiana!

I'm so excited about Disney's new movie "The Princess and the Frog"!  It's going to showcase Disney's first African-American princess, Tiana, who is voiced by "Dreamgirls" and Broadway star Anika Noni Rose (who is just fabulous!).

How cool that there is now a Disney doll for nearly every skin color and cultural background (Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontus, and now Tiana)!  I remember growing up in the 80's and thinking that a doll like Barbie didn't look like me (and I'm white!); but also, that this somehow meant that I was not beautiful, because I didn't look like her.  It didn't help that my two younger sisters were the "classic" beautiful babies - blond, curly hair and big, blue eyes with pale white skin - I had reddish hair, freckles, and had horrible, huge plastic glasses!  My sisters looked like Barbie...and Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, etc.  It was rough at times.

Having the dolls you play and dream with look completely different from you (especially as a young girl) seems to send the message that beauty is quantifiable and something that you'll never be.  When you grow up (if you're wise), you realize that beauty is multitudinous and broad in definition.  Beauty can be found in nearly anything if one has a mind open to such things.

It's simply tragic that it's taken Disney so long to create a black princess (or lead character at all), but it's better late than never, I guess.  At least Baby C will grow up in an America where is are so many options for toys and makeup and anything else that she will need to feel comfortable in her own beautiful, brown skin!

The lady herself!  Princess Tiana (available at

And a toddler version too!  I'm totally going to buy this one!

This cute version that turns Tiana into a frog, then back to a beautiful princess is available from Amazon

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shopping for Toddler

I'm a typical girly-girl.  I love fashion and shopping; so, it's only natural that I've been searching all sorts of stores and online shops looking for goodies for Baby C. 

Okay, so I know we've got quite a bit of time before she gets here; but I just can't help myself!  I can't wait to get my hands on my precious, little baby girl and dress her up like the princess she is!

The only problem?  Well, we don't know what size or even age she'll be!  Well, not exactly.  We decided to be really broad with our age range and put in a request for infant through 3 years old, leaning more toward the 2-3 year old range.  I think, though, since we're younger, we'll probably get matched with a younger child.

To top everything off, I've been reading lots and lots of first-hand accounts of mothers and fathers who were shocked at their adopted Ethiopian child's weight/height as compared to an "average" American child of the same age.  Obviously, the Ethiopian children were often healthy; but significantly smaller in both height and weight. 

So, how do I know what to buy?  Well, I don't.  I am trying to keep myself from investing in clothes and shoes that most likely won't fit Baby C (at least not right away); but who knows how long I can keep myself in check?!  :)

Here's some goodies that I absolutely have to get for her someday (or some day soon!):

I know these little tutus are becoming nearly cliche they're so popular; but I don't care, they're adorable!!!  Lots of seamstresses and shops make and sell them, but I love these brightly colored beauties from Etsy seller Paisley and Posies!  Her tutus are bright and uber-fluffly.  You can also choose the color(s) of tulle for your tutu and if you want any embellishment (I know, as if it needs it, by why not?! :).  Plus, her photos are so beautiful and bright; I would hang them in my house!  Check this shop out at:!!!

I'll say it again, I'm an owl NUT! LOVE them! So, these two items are right up my alley! The dress on the top is by Etsy seller The Classic Baby and has the most precious and hip smocking I've ever seen! (  The tunic on the bottom is by Etsy Seller Earth Groovz and is just so cool; I adore the fabric! (  What a hip toddler Baby C will be!

How adorable are these ruffle-bottomed leggings by Psycho Baby (!  Too cute!

Are you sensing a theme here???  I told you I love girly things! :)  This "can-can" dress is by The Retro Baby ('s hope Baby C's not too adverse to the idea of dresses!

Too Emo/Hipster?  I just don't care!  This "Lil' Berry" dress is by Kitsel ( - lalaLOVE it!

 Last, but certainly NOT least, are these cool Rock 'n Roll lullaby compilations sold on!!!  They have any mix you could possibly think of from The Beatles to Smashing Pumpkins to Tool to Coldplay - I know, I know!  TOO COOL!  I picked this one which is lullaby versions of No Doubt classics.  Maybe I'll get myself one for those nights when I'm fighting insomnia! :)

I hope you had fun looking at some of these goodies.  I know I did!


Adventures in Crafty-Land: Part Trois???

This is the last of these dollies, I swear!  But today went so much better than the first time around that I had to share the final product with you all!

I used the sewing machine this time, and it was really the best route to go with.  Also, I took The Black Apple's pattern and enlarged by 200%; which made it so very much easier to work with!

So, here are the final products; I have TWO dollies to send to Baby C one day!  Hooray!

Her painted face.

A little close-up of her face when she's all done and stuffed.

Little dollie and big dollie, side-by-side!

Well, I'm not the best seamstress out there; but it really was rewarding to create this little beauties.  How fab of Etsy seller The Black Apple to provide her pattern on Martha Stewart, too!  Cheers!

Big Blessings,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Adventures in Crafty-Land: Part Deux

Well, it hasn't been easy.  It hasn't even been that pleasant - ha!  But I have officially completed the first of  Baby C's Black Apple dolls!

Unfortunately, my sewing machine is put away in a box since we're moving soon; but I think tomorrow I'm going to go ahead and bust that bad boy back out, because, honestly, sewing this doll by hand was a major pain in the back side!

To top it all off, when I printed out the pattern, I couldn't get it to enlarge the suggested 150%.  So, my doll ended up being quite tiny, roughly the length of my hand (and my hands are small!) - no more than 6" from head to toe!  Not really what I had planned! :(  But, that's why I bought enough fabric to make two dolls, right?!

So, tomorrow I'll try again; but in the meantime, I'll share with you my less than fabulous Black Apple Dollie.  However, I keep wondering if Scottie will notice or even care that I messed up; she'll probably love having a doll all of her own and close to her size.  So, I'm probably worrying over nothing!

Inside out...almost done!

"Hooray, I'm alive!"  I love her over-sized button and Aunt Grace fabric; but there's a LOT to be desired in my execution! :(  Maybe the second time will be a charm???  I hope to send this to Baby C one day in her toddler care package in Ethiopia; maybe she'll see beyond the poor craftsmanship to the love that really was in each stitch!

Good luck to any and all of you who are attempting this project!  Hopefully, it will go much more smoothly than my first attempt!

Blessings and More Blessings,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Adventures in Crafty-Land

Okay, so I grew up in a household full of crafty women.  My mother sews and is pretty much fabulous at anything crafty and sew-y that she even attempts.  I, however, never really seemed to cash in on those "fabricreative"genes!

But, when I saw this cute, little plush doll pattern by Black Apple (visit her store here:; I decided to brave it out and try to make one for Baby C.

This is the picture that I first saw on Martha Stewart's website (

I thought, "Wow, how cute!  And easy-looking, right?"  Maybe I'm just naive, but tomorrow I'm going to venture out to get some fabric to make this little beauty-cutie!  I'm going to try to make her look the way I think Baby C will look one day.  I don't know, guys, this might just make me cry!  Our agency was saying that you can send a "toddler care package" to your future child in the orphanage in Ethiopia (clothes, a camera, and toys); so, I just keep thinking about being able to send this to her one day in that package!  It gives me goose-bumps!

Apparently, this pattern is very popular.  I found tons and tons of precious little Black Apple Doll cuties all over the Internet.  Here are some pictures of a few of my favorites (I'm sorry, I have no idea where I found them; so, if the photo belongs to you, please let me know; and I'll give you credit, otherwise, just know that I think you're fabulous!).

Adorable, right?!  I think so.  I'll let you all know how it goes; wish me luck! :)

Blessings and More Blessings,


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Need Africa, More Than Africa Needs Me...

This video makes me cry every time I watch it.  I think I need to get one of those t-shirts...just awesome!
Check the whole organization out at!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What's in a Name?

Oh, the name game!  I thought I'd go ahead and get this blog out of my system since I've been thinking about it so much lately!

For most parents, getting to name the child they've watched (or felt) grow in their/their wives' wombs is one of the most exciting and important tasks.  Bestowing a name upon a child is bestowing a since of reality to the situation as a whole.  Names can be a representation of who you are, where you come from, your family history and more.  Some parents elect to name their children after a family member or close friend or someone they admire greatly.  There is so much power in the name you bestow upon your child; for the meaning behind the name is poured out upon them every time you speak it to them.  So important.

So, what then, should a parent do, when he/she does not share the same culture, language, or even biology as the child they are naming?  What is the "right" thing to do?  Is there a right thing to do?

For so many parents of children adopted from outside America, I have noticed that they feel overtly obliged to name the child out of common names from that child's own country heritage.  Or, the parents choose to keep the name the child was given either by their birth parents/family who relinquished all rights to the child or that the child was given by nannies and care-takers at the orphanage where they were cared for until adopted.

To many parents, the child's name was (in many instances) the only gift that the parents and/or family could bestow upon the child; therefore, they feel an intense necessity to keep that gift intact.

I have, however, read a lot on the subject lately by adult adoptees from countries such as China, Korea, Russia, and Kazakhstan.  I thought that their stories were very telling for anyone considering traditional names for their children.  One young woman in particular wrote in a feature piece for the New York Times that having a traditional Korean name coupled with her American parents' dogged determination to keep her Korean cultural traditions intact actually made her feel like a constant stranger or long-lost cousin that needed to be accommodated with special food and activities.  She stated that she never felt truly American, even though that's what she is, no matter what her biological background, she is American.  This story broke my heart.  It was certainly not what I had expected to hear from a 20-something, adult Korean adoptee!  Quite the opposite, in fact!

Now, I want to say that this was only one person's experience!  There are probably many adopted children that are now adults who have traditional names (to their own cultures) and are fine with them and love them!  This was only ONE example of the many out there, but I cite it; because it was so very different from everything I had been reading and discovering throughout this process.  So, if you have a traditional name or are intending on keeping your child's traditional name, PLEASE do not take offense to what was stated above!  It was not meant to offend; only inform.

So, what to do?  Dear Hubby and I have talked about this dilemma A LOT, and I think that we've come to a good conclusion - one that many, many families are choosing these days.  Name the child as you wish for their first name and keep their traditional or country-given name as their second.

I am a HUGE name buff!  (Is that even a term??? Ha!  Well, I guess it is now!)  I've always loved names and naming my characters when I wrote short stories and screenplays; so, the thought of naming a child is really exciting and probably overly-important to me.  I even went all-out when naming my pets!  (A rat named Roxie, dog named Eagan, and two cats named Seamus {Shay-mus} and Moira!).

My mother being Irish (as well as all of my husband's family - our children will have a VERY Irish last name!), I thought it would be wonderful to use traditional Irish names for our future children.  But the more I've gone down this road toward adoption, the more I've started to question this.

We still have so much time before we adopt that we don't have to pick a first name rightnow!; but I would like to get it settled on within the next six to eight months, just in case I "need" to buy her something like a monogrammed pillow or something!  :)

(*Oh, and as a side note, I realize that my naming sensibilities are drastically different than many other people's!  My husband and I like odd names; so, if you don't like them, that's okay!  We do! :)

Boy's Names:

Colm (this is my FAVE boy name EVER!)


Girl's Names:

Tallulah (Lulu/Lulla)
Fiona (Fi)
Penelope (Nell)

So, those are the lists of my favorite names at the moment (I'm throwing in boys' names too, because like I said, I'm obsessed! :).  What are your favorite names for boys and girls?  Did you have a hard time deciding or was it a fairly easy process for you and your significant other?  Did you have any trouble getting your significant other to agree with your name choices?

I love hearing about people's "naming journeys"; so, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas!

Blessings and More Blessings,