Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Think He Loves Me!

Yikealo has been a very loving little boy from day one, but lately he's been especially so. For a "words of affirmation" person like myself, that's a great trait to experience in one's child, I must say! Here are a few examples of the sweetness:
  • "Mama, you're as pretty as a flower." (This sort of melted away what had been a rather grumpy mood on my part.)
  • When I told him, "I'm so glad that you're my little boy" he responded, "Well, I'm so glad that you're my lovely Mama!"
  • Today, while I was snuggling him in the rocking chair after his nap he said, "Mom, sometimes your son just needs to spend some time with you." Yeah, buddy, I feel the same way about needing time with you.
  • "You are the best Mama in the whole wide world."
  • Several times he has handed me a fistful of crumpled, dead leaves, proclaiming with a sweet smile, "Mama, look! I brought you some pretty leaves, because I thought they would make you smile!" Ah yes, what a good reminder that beauty can be found nearly anywhere, if only I look for it...
He's also been a bit obsessed with wanting to marry me lately. We're trying to explain that that's not possible, but he's not totally convinced. The other day I was commenting on how big he is getting and teasing him that he should stay little. He replied that he was going to get as big as Daddy and then he could marry me. I said that no, I was already married to Daddy, so I couldn't marry him. He dropped it for awhile, but the next morning, we had this conversation:

Y: "Mom, why can you not be married to me AND Daddy?"
Me: "Because you just can't be married to more than one person. That's the law."
Y: "Well, I am going to grow bigger than Daddy, AND I am going to be a garbage man. Then you will want to marry me!"
Me: "No, actually, I love being married to Daddy, and honestly, I really don't think I want to marry a garbage man."
Y: "Why??" (Obviously, to a 4 year old boy, being a garbage man must be the pinnacle of success!)
Me: "Because Daddy's not a garbage man, and besides, a garbage man might be kind of stinky."
Y: "What if I am a garbage man AND a dumpster man?"
Me: "Then I will still stay married to Daddy."
Y: "Mom, then how about this: what if I just marry whoever God tells me to marry?"
Me: "That is your best idea yet. That is a very good decision."

As I was typing this, I overheard the following the kitchen:
Y: "Dad, who do you love best: me or Mama?"
David: "Why would you ask that? Do you think that I SHOULD love one of you more?"
Y: "No, you should love both of us. Is that right?"
David: "Do you think that God loves one of us more than the other?"
Y: "I think that He loves both of us the same."
David: "That's right. A Daddy is supposed to be a picture of God for his family, so I really can't love you or Mama more than the other. I love you both very very much."

At this point, I decided to insert myself into the conversation:
Me: "Hey, Yikealo, who do you love best? Mama or Daddy?"
Y: (grinning) "Why do you ask?"
Me: "I'm just curious."
Y: "Both, of course!"
Me: "That was a very good answer!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Numbers and New Friends

As many of you have probably heard by now, things have gotten a little crazy in the world of Ethiopian adoptions during the last few weeks. About 2 weeks ago, MOWA (the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia) announced that they were going to be processing a maximum of 5 cases per day, which could mean up to a 90% reduction in the number of adoptions from Ethiopia. Since that announcement, there have been many advocacy meetings between the Ethiopian government and various other organizations, the director of MOWA has been terminated, and there are lots of rumors flying around. No one seems to know for sure at this point how everything will proceed, but there could be a huge amount of extra waiting time added to adoption cases that are currently in process. Pray for the children who are languishing right now in orphanages as they wait to meet their new families. One thing that we are completely sure of: God knew that this would happen when He called us into this adoption, so there is no use worrying about it. Praying, yes, but worrying? NO! God knows the plans that He has for us and for our future son or daughter, so we will wait until He is ready to reveal those plans.

On a positive note, we received our March numbers today, and there has been significant movement since our "official" update in February. We are now officially #64 for a girl and #51 for a boy.

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to spend some time with a fellow adoptive family that we have had the pleasure of getting to "know" online for the last year and a half. The "R" family adopted their son from Hannah's Hope a few weeks before Yikealo arrived there. When we arrived home several months later, our social worker connected our families, and we have been e-mailing and following each other's blogs since. We've been wanting to meet for some time, and last weekend we finally made it happen.
Our boys seemed to hit it off right away. They played soccer in the back yard, played Wii games, and giggled about how similar their hair was. Shortly after we arrived at their house, both boys came swaggering out from one of the bedrooms with their shirts off, puffing out their chests in exactly the same way. We had to laugh at the expectant, excited looks on their faces! They were obviously excited by the similarity of their skin-tones and hair texture. That's not all they have in common either: they are both originally from the same region of Ethiopia, they are both INTENSELY competitive, and they are both incapable of standing still when they are happy. They skip instead of walking, they use some of the same hand gestures, they both have ridiculously long tongues, and they still use Amharic words for the bathroom. Oh yeah, and they're REALLY cute!
I think that Yikealo's favorite part of the visit was their HUGE box of dress-up clothes. I've been borrowing children's books on tape for him from the library lately, and awhile back he became OBSESSED with Disney's Toy Story. He listened to it so many times that he had it memorized. Well, not only did the R's have a Toy Story game for their Wii, they had costumes for Buzz and Woody both! What more could a little boy possibly want? Yikealo sort of refused to take his Buzz costume off once he discovered it, although at one point, he added Woody's cowboy hat to the ensemble and was calling himself "Buzz-Woody."
We had such a wonderful time with this incredible family! We talked and talked, comparing notes on everything from adoption and Ethiopia to faith, marriage and family. It's always a blessing to meet someone who has walked a similar path to yours, and we are so thankful that we had the chance to connect! The three older girls spoiled Mr. Y by letting him play with their cell-phones and take their pictures, so he thought they were just great. He keeps talking about them, although he can't remember their names, so they are "the big girl and the other big girl and the little girl."
The boys insisted that we take a "silly" picture of all of us, and since my "nice" picture didn't turn out...here's some serious goofiness for you!
Thank you, R family! You are a blessing!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Two Years Later...

Two years ago today, a very sad little boy named Yikealo arrived at Hannah's Hope - a place that would be his temporary home for almost 4 months. He had spent the previous few days traveling - about 500 miles away from the places and the people that he knew. He was scared and lonely and didn't understand what was happening to him. God had big plans, but Yikealo didn't know about that yet. He just missed his mother and his brother, and he felt lost.

I was looking at these pictures on our computer awhile back when Mr. Y walked into the room. The photos prompted the following conversation:

Y: "Hey, that's me!"
Me: "Yes, it is. These photos always make me feel sad."
Y: "Why?"
Me: "Well, you just look so sad in them, and it makes me feel sad too."
Y: "Well, I WAS sad."
Me: "Do you remember how you felt then? Why were you so sad?"
Y: (shrugging his shoulders in a very matter-of-fact manner) "Because I just wanted a Mom and a Dad."

Then he reached up, gave me a big hug and turned back to his train set. Oh, how I love this kid. It makes my Mama heart ache to think about what he must have been going through, and yet I know how that story ends. I know that God has brought amazing beauty from the ashes of tragedy. What really breaks my heart are the millions of other children around the world in that exact situation right now...children who have that haunted look in their eyes because they "just want a Mom and a Dad" - a blessing that I have often taken for granted in my own sheltered life.

Today, my little guy spent the morning with his Daddy - off doing "guy stuff" together. They bought new tires for our car, got David's driver's license renewed, and stopped for smoothies at McDonald's. They ate breakfast together, read some stories, and crowed over how they were wearing the same type of shoes. When they arrived back home, Yikealo ran toward me full-tilt and leaped into my arms, wrapping his own around my neck and squeezing. It's pretty amazing the difference that two years can make!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Letter For Grammy

I happen to be the eldest of five children. When I moved away to college, my youngest brother was just 4 years old. He was a wonderful little boy with a happy, sunny personality, and I missed him like crazy.
To tide me over until my next visit home, Mom would send me letters from little Sethie, along with coloring pages and sticks of gum taped inside the cards. These bright spots in my day always made me laugh and cry, and they are still some of my most treasured possessions. (Okay, I admit I tend toward sentimentality!) Seth couldn't write yet at the time, so Mom would write down exactly what he said as he dictated to her. Sorry, Seth, to share your inmost 4-year-old thoughts with the blogosphere, but some things should just be shared:

"Dear Larisa,
I miss you very much, and I love you. I always like to sleep with you when you come home because I miss you.
We are eating at Arby's in Fort Wayne, and Mom's going to get me a Peter Pan hat.
I'm gonna have fun in school next year. I'm gonna color, put bricks together and draw.
I go with my Dad in the combine and tractor. Oh, and the spray coupe.
Chet plays me "farm."
Thor jumps on me and knocks me over. I do not like the dog. One night, we came home from Grandpa's and all of a sudden there was a "plop" and he broke his chain. Dad had to fix it.
Dad built our house 10 million years ago. Who knows who built this Arby's we are in?!
I wish I was a ship captain because boats are fun to ride in.
Mom wore a flowered shirt.
I saw a lot of junky cars today.
I'll be glad to see you this weekend.

Then there were the colored pictures - like this one with the unlikely title "Lou is wearing NARROW pants." What?!

Today, that little guy with the very random thoughts is a 4.0 pharmacy student who is also a husband and a father to three children - including his very own 4 year old boy. It's hard to believe how fast time goes, but I love having these little glimpses into who he was "back in the day."

Which brings me to the point of this post: my Mom had knee surgery last week, and Yikealo asked if we could please send her a card. (BTW, he received something like 85 cards and gifts following his appendectomy, so I'm glad that he's feeling the need to "give back" - for awhile, the constant influx of stuff was making him feel pretty entitled.) Anyway, I decided that Grammy needed a taste of a little boy's letter, so yesterday Mr. Y dictated the following:

Dear Grammy,
I love you. We hope you get better. We hope you can feel better. We hope you can join us.
I am sending $5 to you because you have an ouchie leg. I think you should buy a Spiderman with your money. I think you should like Spidermans because I like them. 
I love you forever and ever and ever.
I was writing my favorite smell for pre-school this morning, and then I wrote my name in the wrong spot. Instead of just saying "caramel corn", my paper said, "caramelyikcornealo." Now my Dad says that's my new name.
We love you like a puzzle, and we like you even if you ever get mad.
If you get angry or grouchy like my mom, we will still love you - even if you are like a yellow pencil."

Okay, so maybe Mr. Y doesn't have quite the breadth of subject matter that his "Uncle Seffie" had at this age, but you've gotta love the assortment of stickers that he included, right? The best part was when my mom called today - giggling away over the phone. Yikealo was beaming from ear to ear when she thanked him for the letter.

A few other side notes on the gifts from his hospitalization: the kid received LOTS of cash from LOTS of people. We are trying to start teaching him about stewardship, so he and David counted it all out one Saturday. We made him put 10% into a charity or Sunday school fund, we made him pay for the $130 emergency room bill (we told him we'd handle the rest), and then we told him that he has to save the rest for things that he would like to purchase. In order to buy something, he has to tell us what he wants and then wait at least one week before buying it so that he can think about whether or not he's making a good decision. It was all his idea to send Grammy five of his dollars, so I was glad that he was thinking of someone else. However, lately he has suddenly become OBSESSED with Disney World. I really don't know how he even learned about it, but he has been talking about it non-stop and asking if we can please go sometime. We've told him that maybe someday we can, but it is very expensive, and right now we are saving our money so that we "can get our new little boy or girl." Tonight, he suggested that perhaps all three of us could get sick and go to the hospital so that people would send us money...so that we could go to Disney World. Hmmmm....I think we've got a little more work to do on the explanation of just where money comes from and how it should be used!