Friday, March 6, 2009

Six Weeks Home

It is hard to believe it has been 6 weeks today that we arrived home from Ethiopia. In some ways it feels like a few years (!) but in other ways, it could have been last week.

The kids are adjusting well, I think. My expectations, I'm sure, were much too high for these little people. The language is slowly coming, sinking in - I think - but somedays I wonder if we have made any progress at all. Luke (Mebratu) is embracing his American life much more than his sister. He corrects people who still try to call him Mebratu. While Tigist ignores the name 'Grace' when we call it. In time, I think she will accept it. I don't think she dislikes the actual name, I think it is more of what it represents, perhaps, a loss of who she was.

Tigist is such a complex little person. She rarely speaks, smiles and nods when appropriate but is very reserved. When Sophie used Tigist's former (Ethiopian) last name this week, Tigist firmly- with an edge of anger- corrected her saying, 'No! Tigist BROWN'. She was visibly upset and did not want to be called her former full name again.

I know that some day we will be able to discuss all of these things with her and begin to relate to her feelings more. But for now, there continues to be a very high wall between us that I can barely see over. So many days I wish I could say, 'We're so happy you're here! Are you sad? Do you miss Ethiopia? Do you feel like you fit in here? Do you miss your home?" Oh, there is so much we could talk about if we could just talk! Until then, we will wait for the words to come.


Peter and Nancy said...

Congratulations on reaching the 6-week mark! You're being so gentle and loving by letting your daughter adjust at her own pace -- I do think it's a good thing that she insists on the name 'Brown.' A hopeful sign of her claiming her new family, I think. God bless you all as you continue to get to know one another.
-- Nancy
P.S. We just started our second adoption from India. :o)

Ame said...

my parents were very abusive ... and then i married an abusive man. i've been through lots of therapy and have worked very hard to get past it all, yet there are still times when i just can't get past that wall.

she wants to be on the other side, but she cannot get there, yet.

here are some thoughts ... as always, sift through ... keep what applies and discard what doesn't.

you will have to be very real with her. she needs to know you are safe for her. when you're angry, be angry, appropriately. when you're sad, be sad. just be yourself. don't try to be super-mom to her face and fall apart behind her back. if she perceives that you're 'too good' for her, she'll back way off.

her walls will take time to come down ... one grain at a time. hopeflly the grains will come from the middle and bottom, and then one day, they will be so structurally unsound they will crumble.

i, too, was the oldest of four and had to care for my younger siblings a lot from a very, very young age. in a sense, you've probaby taken over her role ... and two women running the same home, well, you know.

it is difficult for her, if not impossible, to just be a kid without having to be will take time for her to feel like she and her siblings are safe enough that she can shed that part of her. and there may even be some jealousy that you can care for her siblings better than she could ... even though she is a child and you are an adult.

the pain of her life has been great. being a child whose brain is still developing, she has been forced to become an adult with a child's brain. trying to reason all that is impossible, but she cannot help but try. to function, she's probably developed coping mechanisms, and she doesn't know it. she doesn't understand how other kids can be so 'free' when she cannot. it's probably confusing for her.

there is a woman who adopted my girls and me several years ago, knowing my story. she lives in another state, which is a good thing for me. she just fell in love with us and wanted me to have a mom and my girls to have a mema. i told her right up front that i don't know how to do this and it would take time. she was way okay with that. sometimes i've been able to talk to her, others i've backed way off. but she's never changed ... and she's never 'chased' me. if she had chased me, i'd have run and never come back. i still have a difficult time with her sometimes. we can talk and have the most wonderful time, but there's still this place inside me that says, 'this far and no more.' she's patient and unburdened by all the stuff in my life, so she just waits. when i come to her, she's delighted. when i don't, she doesn't blink an eye. she prays for us all the time. my girls call her anytime they want. she accepts them as they are.

my fiance is also very patient with me. everytime he says, 'i'm here. i'm not going anywhere. i'll always be here,' and proves it to be true, another layer is dropped.

you know those garden mazes in those english castles that you sometimes see in movies ... and kids get lost in them? think of Grace as being in that maze and you being the clear, blue sky. you can see her, and she can see you, and you can easily pick her up out of her maze and put her at the end ... b/c you can see it all. but the reality is that she must find her way through by herself. the clouds will come, the storms will come, the seasons will change, but keep being her blue sky ... she will keep looking for you, needing you to be there for her, needing you to be unchanging, needing you to be what she will be unable to tell you or ask you to be ... stable, consistant, real, accepting, loving ... full of grace and mercy ... for her AND yourself.

i don't know if any of this applies or not. i just saw some of me in the words you wrote of her.

Karen said...

As always - I love to read your updates. I had a dream about you guys last night - that I was watching your kids so you could go to the doctor. I was tickling Luke and he was laughing and smiling so much! Henry was running around with big smiles in his pajama's!
Thinking of you often and praying that the language and communication with you guys and Grace & Luke will come very soon. Great to hear that Luke is embracing his name. How are the twins doing? Love ya!

Melinda said...

Hi Beth, I can't imigane all the changes you are goint through. We at least have only one child that needs to get used to us. I will be praying that the language happens very soon for your kids and that everyone has an extra measure of grace for each other every day. I can't remember, are you homeschooling? You can always email me if you want to talk through some things we are probably both going through,

Pondie said...

I love how you're sharing your story as it builds. I first heard about your adopting Ethiopian children on a Boundless podcast commenting on your trip. It peeked my interest because I spent most of my childhood growing up in Ethiopia. Since then I've periodically been praying for you and your newly grown family. I love reading through your blogs and hearing your very honest take on the challenges and joys you've been going through. Today (when I read an through your earlier blog about your adopted kids' health needs) I was struck by the parallel I see in your story to what God did for us when He took us in. He claimed us as His own with all our faults, and ugliness of the lives we used to live. We don't change automatically; instead we're often quick to betray God and revert to our old nature. Yet with enduring patience, grace and love He continues to mold us into His image. I see that in your story. Your kids came with many scars from the hard life they once lived. Yet inspite of cross cultural challenges, health deficiencies, and slow adjustments you've determined you've determined to see and love them as your own. I think that's really beautiful and am encouraged as I continue to follow your testimony.
Thanks for keeping us updated. Definitely praying for you all.

Stacy said...

I love your blog and how real everything is with your growing family. I too, want to adopt an older sibling group from Ethiopia and it helps to read your posts. Hang in there, with a family like your Grace can only grow and blossom in ways she needs to and never thought she could! Once again, thank you for your wonderful blog.
Stacy Richmond

Dmitry said...

Blessings to you and your newly enlarged family!

I can sympathize with your children's struggles, as I myself am an immigrant from Russia. I was about the same age as Tigist when I came to America, and I remember being bewildered by the new language and customs. If it weren't for the Lord, which my family introduced me to, I don't know where I would be today. To help me find Christ and become comfortable with my surroundings, my parents took me to a Russian-speaking church, and being with my own culture made me able to embrace my new home.

Perhaps you should take the children to an Ethiopean Church! The Ethiopeans have been a Christian nation since St Phillip the Apostle converted the Eunich (Acts 8:26-40), and Jewish ever since the Queen of Sheba bore the children of Solomon (1 Kings 10:13). They worship and love the Lord, and most importantly to your children, they can share the Lord's love in your childrens' native language. I got the impression reading your blog that you live in the Denver area. A google search shows an Ethiopian Christian Church in Denver, CO, at this site: If you don't live in Denver, you can easily find one close to you through a web search.

Their singing and practices may sound different from what you are used to, but their teachings are solidly based in Christ and His Word. They probably have a support network for new immigrants of Ethiopia, and many children who could be friends to yours.

If you haven't checked it out already, I would highly recommend it. Going to a Russian church, and having Russian friends was pivotal in growing to love my new surroundings and building a relationship with Jesus. I would not be saved today if it were not for my Russian-speaking church. No matter what you decide, I hope your children can find a similar support network.

God bless you and your family once again.

Yours in Christ,


Leslie said...

Hi Beth, That is neat about Tigist insisting on being called Tigist Brown. It means she never wants to go back to her old life. I am continually amazed at the idea of having children you can't communicate with. Write down the awkward moments and later you'll laugh about it. We can't wait till we can talk to her too.

Addy said...

I started following your blog as a result of Boundless. My bro- and sis-in-law are en route (right now!) to Ethiopia to pick up their two little ones. ( I really appreciated Motte's transparency in the "How Was It" series on Boundless. It gave me a reality check for what might happen on their trip, and your continued posts have helped me understand how the bonding phase might be less than romantic also. :) Thanks for the window into your life. I think about you with those 4 new ones as I think about our 2 about to join our extended family, and I'll try to remember to pray for you as I pray for our adjustment too.

Blessed Mom of 8 said...

I am a Mom of 8 - 6 from International Adoption. I have been following along your blog for a few months. I just got caught up on your blog. I too feel the same about food. I look into the eyes of our children and know exactly where they came from and the lives they would all be living "if alive" now. I praise God for His mighty hand to save them all!

I would love to help and share some things that have worked for us. I know your frustrations, doubts and simple without You Lord I can't do another day of this.

Please email me, I would be blessed sharing with you in hopes that something we have gone through and tried will help you.

In His amazing grace,
PS The children are absolutly gorgeous! I love the photos of the twins with your dog. Too cute!

Christina said...

I LOVE your family picture!! It is good to keep up with you guys through your blog. We pray that the adjustment continues to go wel1!