Tuesday, April 13, 2010


A couple days after we brought Mihiretu home from Ethiopia, I hit the wall.

It had been an emotional whirlwind of a trip, 26 hours on a plane coming home, the last two of which Mihiretu keened, so spent and grief-stricken. Then jet-lag, the new three-kid juggle and facing Mihiretu's rejection of me again and again.

And so I found myself on my back porch in San Anselmo, practically sitting in my neighbor's lap. Ann lives next door and is one of the funniest, kindest souls I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. She was holding my hand and I was hyperventilating, putting my head between my knees for oxygen, stuttering and gasping that adopting Mihiretu was the worst mistake I had ever made. That I just fucked up my whole life. That I was stuck, fovever, babysitting for a person that hated me. A person that, quite frankly, at least at that moment, I didn't even like.

Ann did her very best to comfort me. And really, having her hold my hand and listen to my blubbering was the only thing that possibly could have come close to doing the job. Ben was in his own world of overwhelm. We were beyond helping each other, let alone ourselves. Ann told me that it would get better. I wailed that it wouldn't. She told me to give it time, to get some rest. That it was going to be okay. I howled for a good hour before I could finally let loose her hand and send her back down the hill to her house.

And she was right. The next morning, things didn't seem as impossible. And so it's gone, day after day, one foot in front of the other, minute improvement upon improvement. It shocked me, though, how very low I felt at the moment I had achieved a long anticipated dream. I had read about adoption "postpartum depression" but, along with everything else of which I was warned, I was confident it wouldn't happen to me.

A few days after we brought Mae home from the hospital, I was sitting in her little room, listening to Ben coo to her as he changed her diaper. "Oh, I love you so much, do you know that?" At first, I thought he was talking to me because, in our young marriage, we spent a great deal of time expressing exactly why and how we loved each other. When I realized he was talking to the baby, who I, too, adored like nothing I ever had before, I was crestfallen. Cradling Mae in his arms, smiling lovingly into her face, he glanced up and saw tears dripping down my cheeks and off my chin. When he asked me what was wrong and I gulped, "What's happened to us?"

Well, we had a baby, that's what happened. But with that baby, everything was reordered. And it was reordered again with Lana. There were moments in the our first days as a family of four when it all seemed wrong, too. And so again with Mihiretu. This shake-up had new new details but, in the end, it was the same story. The family coalesces again, forms anew, into a richer and more dynamic unit. It's that transition that's the killer.


  1. Am interested to hear any thoughts PoopooMama might have on the russian boy who was sent back by the American mom...

  2. The kids have been out of school so I've only heard the briefest bit about it BUT I can understand feeling so overwhelmed by a kid with attachment problems and just trying to make the problem go away in whatever way. Clearly, she wasn't thinking straight. She could have relinquished him to the foster system in the US. And it sounds like she managed to really screw up international adoption for the rest of us, at least for awhile...

  3. Liz, I wish that I had been able to have been there for you more during those dark days. Our first week with our girls felt like an endless tunnel of agonizing screaming, head-banging and desperate, frantic clutching from them for hours and hours at a time. I am not proud of the feelings that I had or how I let those feelings get the better of me. Like so many adoptive parents, we were woefully underprepared (and the sad thing is that we were actually among the better prepared!)

    I'm glad to hear that you're moving back "home" soon and hope that we can reconnect.

    Did you see my FB posting about the adoption movie screening I'm facilitating at my school next Sunday? Perhaps you have a need to be up this way then? Childcare is available!