Friday, February 5, 2010

When Do We Dig Her Hole

Every day since Noah has arrived in our family, life lessons have been presented to him. Some of these lessons are more subtle than others. This past week my sister-in-law passed away after a long battle with cancer. Her death was Noah's first experience with death since joining our family 18 months ago. I was very cautious entering into the conversation with Noah regarding death, as I had no idea what type of memories this aunt's passing might ignite. For the most part of the day of her funeral I carefully watched Noah and his reaction to her death.

Fran's funeral was Thursday. She had requested a full Catholic funeral mass, with all the symbolism attached. Prior to the service I directed his attention away from the open casket. During the actual service he sat somewhat bored...typical of his reaction to every Sunday at church as the funeral mass very closely followed the protocol of our everyday mass. When the priest waved the incense over the coffin Noah still had his eyes cast down to the floor. Soon the perfume of frankincense and myrrh spread across the church. Noah turned to me with his big brown eyes and smiled widely, "Ethiopia!" he said excitedly. Now his interest was peaked. He obviously had attended Orthodox funerals in Ethiopia. He stood on his toes to watch. After the priest returned to the altar Noah turned to me and asked,
"When do we go and dig her hole?"

When do we go and dig her hole? When do WE go and dig her hole?

That a small church on the Olympic Peninsula...under the veil of a somber moment Noah learned another life lesson. We do not have to dig holes. When it comes to facing the death of a loved one, the only job we have is that of embracing one another. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just embracing one another.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A moment away from reflect on his big brother's birthday 8 years ago....

As I write, it is the early morning hours of February 3rd in Seoul. I have always spent the day before my adopted sons birthdays with thoughts to honor the women who gave birth to them a world away. So today my thoughts are in Sam’s birth land. Eight years ago today a young woman began to feel the pains of labor somewhere in the crowded streets of Seoul. Eight years ago today a young woman was in her final hours of hiding from her family a pregnancy she did not expect or want. Eight years ago today, in Korea, Yoon Jae-Bum became and orphan as his birthmom walked away from her newborn son in a city hospital. Eight years ago today a hero was born in my heart.

Nearly 96% of unwed pregnant women in South Korea choose abortion according to their Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs. 96%!!

Many people ask, “How could a mother leave her own newborn baby?” I could never...ever...ask that question of Sam’s birthmother. She courageously chose to face social indignation for carrying a child in her womb as a single woman. She chose to be that 4%. She chose to carry our Sam Jae-Bum...the beautiful gift she gave our family...Eight years ago today.

Happy Birthday Sam Jae-Bum.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm Back

A very sincere apology for being absent for so long from this site! The end of the year swept me away and I am finally feeling like I am back. we are...Noah has been home for 16 months now and as much as I hate using the phrase, "It's like we have always had him," I have to say it is so very true. The newness of an addition to the family has worn off, the blessed honeymoon period over, and the pulling up the shirt sleeves and getting down to business as far as discipline and expectations has begun. Somedays it is heartbreaking and somedays I have to pinch myself because I am so incredibly blessed to be able to call this little man my son.

Noah is half way through is second grade year. Every day he comes home full of excitement and stories of his classroom. I had to laugh right before Christmas break when he hopped into the car already explaining himself before I read the note from his teacher. Apparently he was swinging his book bag a little too enthusiastically when his class was singing Happy Trails (which in itself is so cool that 16 months ago he could hardly mutter a word in English and now he is singing in his perfect pitch Who cares about the clouds when we're together? Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather anyway... ) and "loudly" getting their stuffed packed up at the end of the day. He "bonked" Lily in the head with his bag which sent her into a fit of tears. When I asked Noah why he "bonked" Lily with his book bag, a quickly defended his actions by saying she was being too loud and it reminded him of when he herded goats in Ethiopia. He needed to gain control of the situation. He then added that Lily should be lucky he didn't have a stick. I dare you...truly...I dare you to try not to hold back a laugh when you see that sweet face and those beautiful brown eyes evoking his goat herding memories from his life in Ethiopia. I had to step out of the car...HE thought I was cooling my jets. : >)

We are still assessing Noah as far as his cognitive ability. His older brother Zak was adopted from China at about the same age. The timelines of their lives before they came to our family are very similar. So much has to be weighed into brain development when the first 7 years of life are a mystery. For Zak we are fortunate he didn't miss a beat...and in truth is scary smart. For Noah, it seems like there might be some delays. We aren't ready to jump and panic yet, but are definitely monitoring some of his cognitive skills.

Noah's memories of Ethiopia still flood his thoughts. He is able to emotionally handle them better as time passes. This past week, with images of the earthquake in Haiti he had a very interesting memory. He is keenly aware of the countries surrounding Ethiopia. He has an uncle in Somalia. He is not partial to Sudanese because refugees of the unrest would wander into his village on numerous occasions. Noah was watching the news about the earthquake and turned to me, recalling an adventure his aunt and he took. He described traveling a long distance by car to the ocean. He said some of his family who had lived by the ocean had been washed away by a giant wave. He talked about massive destruction that looked a lot like the earthquake images on the screen. I Googled tsunamis in Somalia and sure enough...the big one that hit Thailand crossed the sea and hit the coast of Somalia. Noah would have been just a little over three years old. Of course I am a woman of perspective...and for one of my sons earliest memories to be witness to the aftermath of the deadliest tsunami on record...well...that memory kind of shadows my son Nick's Toy Story third birthday party.

One quick last note...the picture of Noah holding the cookie for Santa that looks like the ET flag...his sly look is hiding the small detail that he mixed a spoonful of bereber into the red when Santa took a bite...around midnight...exhausted...and ready for bed...'he' was greeted with an explosion of Ethiopian spices in his mouth. God Bless berbere!!