Habesha Hair Diary

You can tell I am still firmly in Baby Mode when I accidentally typed Habesha Hair Diaper for the title of this post. Not auto correct, just auto pilot fingers.

The girls and I are going to keep track of how we do their hair so we can remember what they liked, how we did it, etc. I also want to stay accountable for progress. My parts need serious work. But oh, the heaven of working on little heads that do not move. This is so much more fun than braiding toddlers!

First few days home, free hair, I think for the first time in their lives.

My six cuties at the zoo

No seriously. These two SLAY ME.

Two strand twisty twirlie things. She liked it, I did it. We only kept these in for two days.

The next style took awhile. Mimi's cornrows and boxbraids gave me blisters after the first two hours, and we broke a beader but I learned a lot, and she tolerated my rookie sloppiness.

Fikir, who's hair is much thinner was done in thirty-five minutes with this simple style. She chose braids gathered into a puff. Thankfully, because my hands were dead after her sissy's hair. We started adding beads but I broke my back up beader.

Week one, down in the books. Oh yeah, they've been home one week. Holy Moly.


Not by bread alone...

Figuring out the food situation with six kids all with different tastes and abilities to cope with meal times has been interesting but so far, not as bad as I anticipated. For example, I was under the distinct impression the two girls recently home from Ethiopia would rather be dead than touch a vegetable. Then I made gommen, and Ethiopian dish which is steamed collard greens with garlic and a few other spices from the pantry, and they went nuts. Between the six kids, who all strangely love this dish, we have gone through FOUR POUNDS of collard greens since Saturday. I am not kidding.

Other sure fire foods, apple slices, peanut butter, scrambled and hard boiled eggs, protein bars dipped in peanut butter, strawberries, avacado.

The first day the girls were home I made a massive vat of fir fir for breakfast. Fir fir is like eating heaven sprinkled with love. It is not a health food, but rather ultra filling, ultra tasty comfort food it is also Ethiopian food that is impossible to mess up and is done in less than fifteen minutes.

Ready for the simplest recipe ever?

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, minced finely
5 cloves minced garlic
berbere 1-2 tablespoons, but if you need less go for it. I think it tastes bland with less than one 1 tbsp.
salt to taste
3 oz canned tomato paste
2 1/4 cups water
Injer, day old or two days is best. If you want to take two rounds out an hour before making so it dries a little that is good, too.

Saute onion and garlic dry for 2-5 minutes, add oil and saute another few minutes. Add ¼ cup water and berbere and stir till blended. Add 2 c. water and tomato paste. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Add broken-up injera. Stir until injera has soaked up all liquid, you can turn off heat.

Serve in some non-berbere soaked injera and watch your kids smile.


No problem

I said on FB, as long as Hubs never returns to work, six kids is totally chigger yelem.

Oh, did I mention that he's going on a business trip tomorrow? And that my mom is going home, nine thousand states away?

Breathe in, breathe out. Chigger yelem. No problem.


Notes From Last week in Addis

Typing from an iPad. Yeah, you heard me. I am no longer an endangered species, the Lives Happily Without Apple Productapiens. This paper thin device has made international communication a breeze. And will be handy in the coming months when kids are doing home school stuff on the family computer, I can still look up dinner recipes and whatnot on this sucker.  I find auto correct overbearing, and correcting typos unbearable, so this post shall be chock full of mistakes. Please forgive.

Moments and impressions I mustn't forget here in Addis. (Jotted down a week ago)

Wondering for the first time why the entire western world calls the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, when most Ethiopians spell and pronounce it Addis Abeba. A distinct short e shound. This stuff gets my panties in a bunch.

Seeing Mimi on the first day with straightened hair and flipping out internally praying that no one took chemical relaxer to her hair.

A room with thirteen cribs in it, and two twins, malnourished, whimpering, maybe four weeks old.

Trying to re-break the ice with the girls by reading books and being surrounded immediately by fifteen kids all up in my personal space, hovering trying to see the pictures, all deadly silent. The two books I grabbed were so freaking funny to read to skids who have almost no English: Barbie and the Diamond Castle and Dinosaur Train. BookFail and no one cared.

A slide with rusty, gaping, jagged holes promising tetanus along with the fun.

A swing set with three broken swings, that pulls out of the mud every time a child flies by threatening to capsize.

Those dang fumes and traffic. Getting awfully car sick on the way to the Embassy appointment, looking down and seeing silent tears running down Fikir's cheeks. She claimed she was sick too. But it felt like more than an upset stomach.  She went limp. I had to carry my new six-year-old baby to our Embassy appointment. Though metal detectors, doors, across a courtyard. She was checked out, then started weeping, and she clung to me like she was clinging to hope.

My arms and back survived. There was a playhouse in the Embassy waiting area. I crawled in with her and she smiled. I was the only mom going down a slide made for toddlers in that room, but I was also the only white lady speaking Amharic to her kids so I think the scene I was making canceled itself out as far as positivity goes.  I got a head nod from two Ethiopians who were waiting for their appointments and I feel like they forgave me acting like a lunatic (barking like a dog on all fours in a serious government office setting).

Complaining to agency and embassy who both spelled Mimi's name wrong.  Assuring my girl we would fix it, her smile. She has asked for no nick names. The girl loves her name. Peeps better spell it and say it right.

Pulling out the pillow pets for them upon arrival in hotel. The gasping, the giggling, the hugging, the pillow fighting.

Going on a walk on hotel grounds, doing a photo shoot. Seeing the silliness. This is what relief of being out of the care center looks like.

Fikir's astute observation leading me to needing to change the iPad password. The girl is smart, fast, and will keep me on my toes. Within fifteen minutes of seeing an iPad for the first time, she was attempting to purchase more games.

Realizing Fikir is going to have to learn to come to me with her hurts, that her big sister doesn't have to fill that role anymore.  This is tricky.

Mimi asking for hair time tonight, and Fikir start taking out her own cornrows so she could get a beauty treatment as well. Loving this hair thing we already have going on. Loving how well we communicate considering how little we know of each others' languages.

Sobbing, realizing three very special and very important friends of my girls are still left behind in care. They need to go home. Every single kid in an orphanage needs a home, a family, and it is so much worse when you know them by name and have hugged them and dried their tears. Praying every day for A, A and S.

A, a girl is 14, the other A, a boy is 12 and S is a boy, 12. If you are the praying kind, please remember them tonight. I hate every moment they are stuck. waiting for paperwork. The sadness these children have seen is great, and the light within them so bright. They need their families, just like my girls needed us.

Next time: the food situation...


They, we, are home: Mostly Firsts

First meeting from June (thought you'd all like to see.)

Fast forward to last week. First hotel stay

First time falling asleep on Mom

First twists (from me)

First time to Mercato

First time owning a backpack

First time on an airplane

Not the first, second, or fifth spill or rejected food item. (File this flight under: Things Adoptive Parents Don't Want to Ever Think About Ever Again so They Don't Talk About How Hard it is)

First breakfast all together (Eggs and fir fir. Everyone was psyched. Recipe forthcoming)

(please keep in mind, the following are ONE HOUR into knowing each other.)

First play time

First walk

First hugs and kisses

First family soccer game

First car trip together in the 12-seater, which has yet to be named and clearly needs it. Also, every time I get in the van I hear the song This is How we do it in my head.

First puzzle mania time

What is not pictured is Fikir's first hair trim, their room, and how tired I am. It's going well, friends. They are blessings. Waiting for shoes to drop, doors to slam, tears to come. But so far...it's all blissy and stuff.

Thank you everyone



what else?

Just found out -- wait. I need to explain. My friend Jenn finds it wildly funny that Hubs and I have colossal delays and gaps in our communication. Like, it takes us seven to fourteen days to catch up on all the information that needs to be exchanged. We operate in concentric circles, with a little overlap in the middle and sometimes, we have no idea what the other person has planned or spoken to others about.

So, when I say "I just found out" about this, I mean, yes, Hubs was in Ethiopia last week with our girls, and just now, a week later, we got a chance to sit down and talk about what his trip was like. I have not seen a picture, I have not heard his impressions or heard what he did while he was there with them. Until tonight. Look, we have a lot of little people, and he travels a lot. You people with a life like mine will understand.

Anyway, Hubs had a conversation with our girls last week wherein he described a typical day, a typical week, what to expect on weekends vs weekdays, what his work schedule is like, what they will be expected to do to help, how we want them to communicate with us if they need help, that it's OK if they feel sad or upset and that we will never be mad if they tell us.  They talked about how we do school at home, but they will get to do things like music lessons, gymnastics, soccer, etc if they want to (they do!). Mimi told Hubs she would like to play the piano and she almost flipped when he was able to tell her that we actually have a piano and that her grandmother is a piano teacher. Fikir says she wants to learn guitar. She didn't believe it that we also have a child-sized guitar and that her grandma can teach her that, too. Hubs talked to them about church, God, prayer, things we care about in our family.

At the end of this very long conversation, Hubs said, through our wonderful friend and translator

Well, do you have any questions? Is there anything you want to know?

Mimi said in Amharic, What else is there? You just said everything.

This one. This boy has changed me. I feel like God is using him to sculpt me into a better human. It is a humbling, dizzying gift and challenge to be his Mama. Tonight we went to a large scale Ethiopian New Year party. Several times a year we join a few hundred people to eat, dance and celebrate Ethiopian holidays and our multicultural, multiracial families. This night, for the first time in two years, this boy had fun.  In times past he was clingy, scared, uncomfortable, and spends the entire time crying or in the Ergo. But tonight, oh, tonight. He ran around. He ate cake. He only checked in when he needed a balloon tied around his wrist or when he feel down and needed a hug. He played. He smiled. And tonight before bed he told God in his sweet prayer, like a mantra to himself as much as God, Mama go on airplane and go get Mimi and Fikir. Mama Go Opia. I Opia. My Mama.

Is there anything better than out-loud Baby Processing? Is there anything better than little ones finally being able to use words to tell what they understand and think about? He is so very easy to love. And so so brave. 

Mildew in the shower. The grout. I really want to clean this before they come. Essential? No. But it feels like it. It feels like nesting before a newborn comes. This places needs some sanitation, stat.
Cleaning out my drawers enough to be able to put my clean laundry away. Everyone else in the house is done. I am last.
Cleaning out a space in the bathroom for a "Just Ethiopian girls hair" drawer. They have a vast quantity of lotions, oils, potions and supplies and I don't want anyone else touching it. I want to have it organized. 
The camera. I desperately want to get a new camera even though we still haven't been reimbursed from insurance. I want to have faith it will happen and just go get it, like, right this second. Hubs and I shall revisit this topic tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.

Pictures. I want to have pictures of their mom, with them, and all of us, printed for their room. And a few of their friends from Ethiopia.  Hubs and I talked about wanting them to see, right away, that we want their Mom to stay a tangible part of their life. She is real. She is not going to be forgotten. If it makes them uncomfortable, or makes them mad, or is hard to deal with, they can make the choice to put a picture away, in a drawer. But want the default message to be that we accept her and give them permission to love her, miss her, think about her. We think by walking into the room and seeing her picture right away they will know we were serious when we said we care about her. And we want them to know their friends are special and important and not gone forever.
Van. We are getting closer to a car purchase. We have decided on a 12-seater passenger van. We are narrowed down. If Hubs loves me enough, it will be in the driveway when I get home with the girls. I trust him entirely. Our shoddy communication is not required in this. Go get it, Baby. Get 'er done.

That is the list. That's really all. Five days. Five days until I jump on a plane and our family goes from six to eight. All our lives will never be the same.

It is mind-boggling, and it has made me awfully prayerful lately. The stress and worry may be getting to me a little; I had the enlightening experience of my first migraine ever. It took thirteen hours to sleep off. (Thank you, Hubs. I think he may have taken my children to the pit of Hell  MacDonalds while I was under, but we have a strict "Don't ask don't tell" policy about that disgusting place.)

So now, what else is there to do at this point besides scrub mildew, arrange a few drawers, hug the little ones tightly and pray?

As my Mimi says Nothing. That is everything.


it came

I stayed up until 3am knowing any second it could appear.

And it did. An email from the US Embassy in Addis.

We are cleared. 

I am traveling next week to go get them. 

I am so thankful. So happy. (And a little nervous.) Mostly thankful.


practice parenting

Before I get to the main points of this post two things should be noted.
1. I sent in an application for two kittens at a nearby shelter. After a 45-comment-long debate about Cat Adoption Ethics on the Scooping it Up FB page that had me rolling (oh my heavens you people are funny), I decided to go for it.  Have not heard back. But they are stinking adorable. Our Ethiopian daughters have been around pets, cats and dogs and will be delighted. The kids are going to have a blast together caring for some kitties.

2. It is possible we will hear back from the Embassy today or tomorrow about being "cleared" to travel to get the girls. I got a flat yesterday, can't go anywhere until it is fixed, and will thus be checking my email every twenty seconds or so. I foresee productivity being low.

OK, onto the the main message today. I have to confess I do this potentially obnoxious thing: I respond several times a day to queries on various online support groups on how the group members would handle a certain situation or behavior in a child. At any time, night or day, someone is asking an "I am at the end of my rope, help" question and I tend to think briefly, and respond as quickly as I can because I desperately want to be better at thinking on my feet when my kids do things that are difficult.

I want to be a well-oiled-regulated machine in how I respond to the children I love, but in the moment with them, I am sometimes stressed and less patient than I would like. Thus, my responses to Facebook queries are my golden chances to mentally practice what I preach, and what I should do before I am in the moment myself. It's like a quiz and I want to take it over and over and over again  in the effort to refine my speed and range at parenting tricky situations with sensitive children.

The fact is, traditional parenting strategies almost completely fail kids with hard backgrounds. I know because I have failed over and over again. And we all tend to parent the way we were parented, so relearning how to communicate, how to teach, how to respond, to change what comes naturally feels like a superhuman effort to me. I wish it weren't so hard. Parenting in a therapeutic way isn't about getting kids to Stop Bad Behavior Immediately So We Can All Get On With Our Day. It is about responding to things in a way that will help heal their brain, for long term improvement in behavior and overall more love. It's more of a long-term approach than short term. And it's hard. And to outsiders it can look like being permissive. Did I mention it's hard? 

I have recently realized I may have this online persona of coming across as WILDLY overconfident when I spit out these answers to questions. I am the kid in the class raising her hand too much.  But I don't throw these comments out there because I think I know it all, no, I am putting myself in that parent's shoes, feeling that weariness and asking myself:

OK Scoopy, what would Bryan Post Do? Or Dr. Purvis? What is the most appropriate way to help get to the bottom of this behavior? If this were you, how should you do it?  I don't think I am any better at parenting than anyone, in fact, the way I respond to these questions like a dog chasing cars should indicate how badly I parent sometimes because I am trying so hard to rewire my brain to be the kind of mom I want to be.

I wanted to invite you to join some of the Parenting Pop Quizzes I answered this week, because  hey, we are all learning.

Consequences for biting, it happened a few hours ago. Go.

My answer: It's tough because if your kiddo has attachment or trauma issues, consequences don't really help much because in the moment, he was responding to fear, not a "hmmm, will I get in trouble for this? response.  He's not thinking in the moment so a consequence/punishment tells him it was wrong, but doesn't necessarily fix whatever triggers the biting. So with a punishment now he gets to feel fear AND shame. 

That being said 1) I think the action has to fit the crime: making him write her a thank you card (picture) and note of apology, pick some flowers for person he bit, spend $ you might have used on something he cares about to get a "I am sorry gift" spend a lot of time talking about how we have have to make it better for people we hurt if you want him to try to make amends.

I would then 2) Try to get to the bottom of what happens when he bites. Is he in a situation that is stressing him out and making him Fight or Flighty? If he has decent verbal skills I would ask "How do you feel before you bite? What makes you scared? The answer might be surprising. Then, I'd ask him "what do you think we could bring on the bus with you to help you feel safe and not scared when that happens?" 

I added more later after some other great responses and a question about if the child is just being "naughty" and my answer was "blaming" it on adoption and letting him get away with it:

 I will add, I don't think it's about being "adoption related" like it's an excuse, but stress is stress. Like, you may get stressed in a meeting and it's going over time and other people are irritated but you are fuming mad; it probably is due to an experience you had (or something you are worried about) that causes an above-normal response or an inability to cope with the stress, even though to others, it is not a huge stress. 

For example, I don't like when my family does things without me and it puts me in a really edgy, stressed out state.  I finally figured out it comes from experiencing two really bad pregnancies that left me on bed rest for months. I didn't leave my room, and felt very alone and my husband and children had a life for months that I didn't see or get to be apart of. So I get triggered sometimes and overreact. I don't bite anyone, but I certainly don't behave well. --- My point is, if he gets stressed out because of his past experiences, it's legit to him. It's not about using adoption as an excuse, it's realizing that what should be "tolerable stress" in your eyes or for many kids his age, right now, it isn't tolerable for him, so he is acting out. I really do believe that most "naughty" behavior comes from stress/anxiety fear. I see it in me, and my kids.

Child acting very shy, completely shuts down when approached by strangers and even some people we know.

My response: I am learning how to deal with this myself. I have started to try not to label my boys by saying to the person they are blatantly ignoring: "Oh, I am sorry, they are shy." I dont' want to send the kids a message that they should be ashamed or apologetic by being afraid, and feeding a self-definition of shy.  I don't love the word. I will say to the person, "These guys like to stay close to Mom right now, but when they are ready they are sure silly! Maybe you will get to see how funny they are or how fast they run in a few minutes!" by way of intro and then don't bug the kids at all. 

If we are going to something where I want them to make eye contact or a handshake or high five would be polite, we prep hours before so they know it's important to me. I always say "You don't have to say anything, but you can smile and give a high five OK?  That would be polite and make the other person feel good." It's so hard to know what to do, but that is what I've been working on.
Our 3-yr-old has been pulling hair. She can be playing just fine but then for no reason we have been able to identify, she will lunge toward another child and wrap her fingers into that child's hair and yank with all her strength (which is considerable.) She doesn't respond at all when asked to let go, we have to pry her loose. Thoughts?
My responseI would find games that involve ropes and pulling like tug o' wars, for example, get a cheap laundry basket from W*lmart, put cans of food and some stuffed animals and tell her to drag them to a good picnic spot. That heavy work + imagination could be fun.  Another idea: though it might prove to be scary or painful at first, but I would have her try playing beauty shop with you.

Use a wide-tooth comb, get your hair really detangled first for your own sake, and model gentle gentle ways to touch hair. Do a fifteen second demo on her talking all the awhile "Oh look, how gentle I am to your pretty hair! So nice!" and then say "OK, your turn, show me how to be gentle and make me pretty!" After fifteen seconds or so say "Wow, so great! OK, my turn again!" And go back and forth. This works well in front of a mirror and let go to town with chap stick on herself or something fun while it's your turn being gentle on her hair. The turns should to be pretty quick, and numerous though you will find a pace that works. Having dedicated "gentle hair time" where you are both showing and practicing and "getting pretty" may help. We have really good OTs that do these kinds of games with my son and it is kinda miraculous how much they help. (He is almost three.)

And in a reversal, I asked for some help in that precious time sucking gift that is FB.

Today I checked out a gymnastics class for my little guy. I know he will be good at it (he climbed a  12-foot fence yesterday in about eight seconds and can already do cartwheels) but I watched today as the other children followed directions, stayed with the group, and noticed something they didn't do: cry or tantrum. I realized that what has become "normal" for me are breaks downs and tears sometimes as much as six times every hour. I don't think he has the skills to make it through 45 minutes without constant intervention. The classes at this gym as small, 4 or 5 children, and want   to let him try, to have something fun that he is really good at. I just was  discouraged today as I realized that being in a class setting like that takes way more than tumbling skills. Those he has in spades. But emotionally being able to handle taking turns, obeying a teacher, etc, those are different skills he doesn't have yet. Thoughts?
See the gems of feedback folks threw at me-

Sometimes they will make accommodations if they are aware of the need...perhaps having an extra "teacher" in class whose priority is helping your boy stay focused and on task as needed. If he
really isn't ready, see if they have open gym hours, when you could take him in to practice swinging on the bars and tumbling at his pace...allowing him to gain familiarity with the setting and easing him into classes? I don't know your son so I don't know if these are feasible options...but I've seen gyms make lots of accommodations for children with additional needs, so it might not hurt to ask.
I know we have a gym locally that actually has a separate class time for children with special/extra needs. It includes kids with behavioral issues as well as kids with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, CP and Autism! My friend's daughter was in the class and her health insurance covered part of the cost!  

Give him a chance, I mean really give him a chance. Stop by and ask the coaches some direct questions: What would you do if x,y,z happened. If you are happy with their answers then drop him off and go sit in your car. Sounds like you are pouring into him and loving him abundantly, gymnastics might be the very thing that allows him to put these skills into practice. Ask your coaches to allow him to climb a rope/ jump/ stand on his head if he starts to get restless. I was a gym coach and saw truly miraculous things start to happen in my classes with my extraordinary kids.
Is it possible that you work with him during the class? Like a gymnastics coach aid?
Maybe take one of the above options for a test drive, but prep yourself for the event that maybe he's just not ready. Part of the heartache of these kids is their bodies may be ready -- but their brain/emotions are years delayed -- so often things don't fit. Oh, how often I wish that it was REQUIRED by natural law that body and mind/emotion development HAD to match 
Me again:  Question for anyone that knows, is EDMR therapy efficacious for people who do not remember their trauma?  I feel like I remember reading that it involves visualizing an event or something that happened. I wonder how old is "old enough" for this therapy. I feel like my little one needs more than what he is getting, or maybe something different to work on the cause of the dysregulation, but he is still so young.  

Yes,  EMDR therapy can work on preverbal trauma. You need a therapist trained in using EMDR for preverbal/early developmental trauma with kids.

EMDR made a big difference for my son and daughter. They were about 5 and 7 when they had the therapy, and their trauma was up to about 1 and 3.


So as cloying as this sign off may seem, I must end here expressing gratitude for the lifeline that is the internet. I am grateful for my little people who challenge me and force me into a humble, teachable person. I am grateful for the blessing of being surrounded in real life and online by support that mothers like me didn't have thirty years ago. My situation, here at home, with an oft-traveling Hubs, and four kiddos, three of whom are what I would consider slightly above average in needs requiring creative and constantly evolving parenting strategies and lots of external support from therapists, etc, well, this might have driven someone insane a few years ago. This is so much harder than even I dare to acknowledge sometimes. But I am okay. I am better than okay, I am energized when tired, I am lifted when down. I have a constant stream of ideas and helps and encouragement.

I am blessed. Thank you all for your support and kindness. And thank you all for the prayers and positive juju about the Embassy. Maybe today will be our day! 

Oh, and here is proof. 


tied up with strings

A few things I am really loving right now

Today we skyped for the second time with Hubs and our two darlings in Ethiopia. By the way, I think it's high time they have official blog names. Our twelve-year-old will hereafter be known on this space as Mimi and our six-year-old will be Fikir. This morning and last night there was singing, giggling, pointing, tongue-sticking-out, alternating shyness and kissing the computer screen, showing off English and Amharic skills. A hundred 'come soons' and 'ewudehallo/ewudeshallos' from both sides of the internet. The miracle of skype I most appreciate today beyond seeing smiles and hearing laughter, is moving the camera around saying look, here is the kitchen, there is the shelf that holds our school books, there is the table where we eat, here is the bulletin board where we have your picture... As traumatic as this whole thing is, I love that tiny things we have been able to do to prepare them for their new life and home. There are only three children left at this orphanage, and two of them belong in this family. In four or five days I --hopefully-- will get an email from the US Embassy in Addis saying we are free to come get them. And just as hopefully their buddy, M's parents will get an email that same day and we will all go together and the kids go home the same week. Praying and hoping for this. Soon soon, and not soon enough.

This company employs and benefits extremely talented Kenyan women who knit gorgeous sweaters and accessories, and the shocker is how it is not wildly expensive like many free-trade companies. I am looking at a few pieces for Halloween and winter on its way. You must check them out, as it is always a pleasure to know one's money is benefiting those in need, making a living with their their skills and talents.  


This knitted hood and stripey knit pants are in my "cart" for my youngest child this year. The animal sweaters are so darling I just had to share!


This company shows what selling shoes can really do in a third world country: the designers, the owners, the marketers, the materials ALL from Ethiopia and each shoe is handmade by Ethiopians. The entire business model builds communities, lifts people out of poverty,  by buying material from local farmers and artisans, recycling tires for the soles, employing "unemployable" workers to hand make the shoes. These babies are gorgeous, they are a revolutionary endeavor as the first free-trade shoe company in the world. And they are awesome, each pair is sold with 100% satisfaction guaranteed.  Here are some I have my eyes on.

Yesterday a little girl came up to Tsega and me snuggling at the lake and said You adopted him, a half statement, half question. I looked at my boy, tickled him and asked Tsega, were you adopted? My amazing boy smiled and said Yeah, I am Opia! 

It is miraculous to me that over the past few months of gently, slowly trying to tell him his story and connect him to his beginnings, he is understanding the words and who he is. His identity may be sixty years in the making, and go through many cycles of grief and processing, but seeing his unflinching comfort level with the few words he has is relieving, to be honest. Even being able to connect the question about his adoption to "Opia" is huge. Today he asked I wear my 'Opia shirt? And we dug out this one.

He also is displaying with his new found chattiness an understanding about his sisters' adoption. This week while Hubs is gone he's asked several times
Mimi coming home? Mimi come Opia home Dada?

When I explain that they are not coming home with Dada, that Mama still has to go out there, he nods, and accepts. I can't believe he is getting this on some level. I love his enthusiasm for his sisters and the growing love. I am thrilled that none of these three precious children from Ethiopia will be alone in the family. That they have people that share their past, their heritage. We have never wanted any of our children to be "alone" like that in our family and we are feeling a bit more complete.

Almost. Almost complete. I think. (Shhh, don't tell Hubs about the "I think" part.)