Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy Fasika!

Fasika (Easter), April 27, is the most important festival for Ethiopia's devoted followers of the Orthodox Church. Followers fast for 56 days, abstaining from meat and animal products like egg, butter, and milk. On Easter eve people celebrate and go to church with candles which are lit during a colourful Easter Mass service which begins at about midnight Ethiopian time. People go home to break their fast with the meat of chicken or lamb, slaughtered the previous night, accompanied with injera and traditional drinks (i.e. tella or tej). Like Christmas, Easter is also a day of family re-union, an expression of good wishes with exchange of gifts (i.e. lamb, goat or loaf of bread). Followers celebrate Fasika with intense joy, food, drinks and the exchanging of gifts.

The painting to the left is from Ethiopian artist Genet Alemu, entitled "Woman". I find it beautiful, transporting and unifying.

The Weekend of Baby Mama

It was indeed a Baby Mama weekend. It started with a Friday showing of the movie with fellow Baby Mama KB (who is coincidentally also pregos, carrying twins 2nd/3rd). We were both curious and exited to see Tina Fey in action and while the laughs mostly delivered and the touching story was sweet yet not too sentimental the biggest plus of the film was the chemistry between Tina Fey and Amy Poelher. I guess as I let the film sink in and all the relevant plot points settle in my psyche, I realize that it's just not in the movies that everything happens as it's supposed to.

Then, I continued with a lovely Sunday with New Baby Mama/Pappa Friends, who will be known to this blog at NBM/PF. We started with brunch in Brentwood and I can't tell you how nice it is to just talk about our respective process. I think that because we share all the same elements, we have a therapeutic exchange that, for me, is specific to this relationship. I also think that because I'm trying to not get too detailed about the heavy logistics as I relay it to friends and family that sitting across the table from someone who completely understands my story without me going through every last detail is simply healing.

It's one of those things that I don't even realize about the time together until I stop and feel my heart is lighter. I explained to NBMF that I try to "manage" my emotions surrounding the process so that I can chew off bite size pieces. Everyone who understands adoption and parenting realizes this will not work and NBMF made me realize that as much as I have focused on all the "hard" stuff, it's time to allow my mind to think of the "good" stuff.

...So we headed out shopping on Montana to super-cute baby stores. She told me about what she's got so far and I told her I was waiting...AND then something happened and when I went into the stores, I felt like an expecting mother - which was a newer feeling. I mean it's always been in my head and my heart but now it was like I was announcing it to the world :) I felt like I didn't need to worry or "manage" as it was just a matter of time...

Drum Roll Please - Presenting my first outfit purchase for Liv: peace shirt and flower jeans
(shout out to Lucky Brand kids):

So I think that this weekend, is exactly what I needed, when I needed it. I got to connect and share with great women - thank you both for making me feel like a Baby Mama!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pray for Peace

U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa
Warden Message
Gas Station Explosions
April 16, 2008

The U.S. Embassy has received reports of two separate explosions in the
early evening of April 14 at two petrol stations in Addis Ababa. Initial
reports indicate that as many as three people were killed and as many as
16 - 19 people injured as a result of the two explosions. One of the
explosions occurred at the National Oil Company (NOC) station in the
vicinity of the Lem Hotel on Haile Gabre Selassie; the other occurred at
another NOC station in the vicinity of the Imperial Hotel. The first
explosion is said to have occurred at approximately 18:45; the second
occurred approximately 10 to 15 minutes later. While the cause of the
explosions have yet to be determined, the fact that the explosions
occurred at close to the same time and at similar service stations,
suggests these may have been targeted incidents. Ethiopian authorities
are investigating the cause of the explosions.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Feels Good

It's been awhile since my first post and that's because I've been tackling paperwork. Between my name change and the adoption paperwork it's been a full time job. I've had quite a few hiccups but nothing that can't be dealt with. The process does have a way of preparing you and I really appreciate that. Right now I'm waiting for my homestudy report to be completed and I'm thinking that in May I will be on the official wait list.

I have had two Parenting classes so far. These classes are specific to to International Adoption. And what I realized is how important that fact is because there are so many specific needs related to international adoption. There were four couples and one other single woman. Korea, China, El Salvador and Ethiopia were represented. I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful couple that are in my exact same situation (same agency, same timing, also choosing an infant girl). I felt in the moment that I met them that we would be life long friends. And because we're on the same track there's a good chance we could travel to Ethiopia together. The fact that my daughter could possibly be a friend with a girl that she shared her first days with is a terribly special thought to me.

In preparation for class yesterday on culture, I had to take an Ethiopian dish to share at the potluck. Those who know me, know I need help in this area...and that's what I got. I found an Ethiopian restaurant near my house and was greeted by the most wonderful woman who instantly knew my situation and hugged me and told me she'd take care of me and that I'd be a staple at her restaurant. It was one of the most loving, special moments to be embraced by a stranger like I was part of her family.

While I think I've finished about 8 books so far (****NOTE, I highly recommend "There is No Me Without You" by Melissa Fay Greene), the classes have opened my eyes to understanding how special my child's needs are and how I need to adapt as well as educate those special in our lives to make sure they understand.

While it feels absolutely right for me to do - it has been hard at times to comprehend that I'm doing this single. That was probably one of the hardest things in the class was seeing couples work through various scenarios together. What I keep remembering is that I have the best group of friends and family and "together we can" (that's for Alexis, Andy and Dad).

I am choosing a girl 4-8months old from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Many people are curious how I came to this decision. I've always been very interested in adoption as well as open to having a natural birth child. This is just what I chose to do first. I'm not sure I can completely explain all the rationale but in terms of some key factors:
--the requirements were more of a match/accepting to my situation
--there is tremendous need in Africa
--Ethiopia has committed to the Hague Adoption laws which is a global initiative to formalize international adoption
--the culture and rich history of Ethiopia is of great interest to me
--it just felt right

I have also decided to name her Liv (keep her natural name as her middle name) Elkins. Liv means "a vow with God" and it sets a wonderful intention for her. While most commonly short for Olivia, it's also short for Elizabeth (my middle name). And I like that connection between us.

There are a couple reasons I'm blogging about this experience:
--I want to include special people into my process
--I want my intentions to be documented for myself and Liv

I feel really right about it all. I certainly have moments of great emotion but I feel extremely honored and privileged to be able to grow my family in this way. I want to give a special thanks to Andy, Alexis, Kristin, Sandro, Russell and Yumi - all amazing people who had to give references on my behalf and I really appreciate the help and support. And a special special thanks to Kris, for being Kris, and letting me know he's there for us.

P.S - I thought that I'd also include some of my favorite things that I'm learning about. Above is one of my favorite Ethiopian paintings.