I knew a lot of things about Ethiopia, child raising, and psychology before we left Oklahoma City. I took all that information and must have left it in Addis airport because I couldn't remember ANYTHING we had read or learned. I responded by instinct. And I found a WHOLE lot of my mother coming out of my mouth.
One of the things I regret about Ethiopia was my own expectations. No matter who you are, there are things you anticipate, expect, desire. Unfulfilled expectations are hard to handle and can turn to doubt. Alazar clung to Le those first days. I knew this was possible. But after staring at a face and falling in love, I sincerely wanted my son to at least not scream when I came near him. So I pouted about it; I knew I shouldn't, but it must have been in one of those books I left at the airport, so I did it anyway.
I let the devil convince me that I was a horrible mom and that Le and I had made a wrong turn somewhere and we were really supposed to be enjoying two weeks on a Caribbean beach, instead of adopting two kids. And trust me, there were days that I believed him...every single word of it. I found myself counting the minutes until nap time, then recounting until bed time. The sound of their feet brought dread into my heart, it meant they were coming for me, another day of torture. The sound of their voices meant they needed or wanted something; a lot of which I couldn't understand.
One thing I came to learn about Ethiopian culture was that children are to be seen and definitely NOT heard. Under the age of five, they are given anything they want to keep them from crying. We tried time-out but when even people who worked in our guesthouse was rescuing Alazar from us and disappearing to give him bread or treats, you can see how effective our parenting would be those first days. I finally just stopped getting pissed about it. I wasn't there to change their culture and they only had a few more days to spoil him, then he would be with us. And this mama don't play...especially not on her own turf.
Le & I relied on each other more than ever and during those first, dark days, I fell in love all over again with the man I married almost 6 years ago. We were like a tag team in a wrestling match. He knew when I needed a break and I felt when his frustration would rise too high. My ten minute, semi-warm shower was my only true escape each day. In those moments while not cussing the plumbing, I cried. I let it all out. I cried for my failures. I cried for my own sins. I cried for my children and I cried to have my own mom. But in those times, I felt God more than I had in a long time. And the more I called out, the more He answered. I called out to my Father and asked for forgiveness and asked to be a better mom, a better wife, a better follower and yes, I even asked for a little warmer water! And slowly, ever so slowly, we began to figure it out. And a rhythm began. It wasn't pretty and it wouldn't produce a chart busting hit, but it was our rhythm and for now, it was working.
Ruta discovered my camera and LOVED taking pics of herself:
Preciousness in the midst of his terror:
This boy LOVES his daddy: