Saturday, October 12, 2013

Always there

You are always there. Always, always. When A gets a note from his teacher praising his hard work, or scores a goal in soccer, or argues with me, you are there. When D makes up a song, or sounds out a word, or asks why? for the millionth time, you are there. I tell the kids how proud of them you would be. I do little things for you, like make sure they eat Ethiopian food with their right hand and never touch pork (I don't know if you would actually care). You are always with me.

Except you are not. You live only in my head, and the danger of living in my head is that you become an idea. You start to evolve into "noble" and "selfless" (Do you know how often the word selfless is used by adoptive parents to describe our children's first family? A LOT.) I more-than-half believe that you saw something in these children and wanted more for them than a life in rural Ethiopia could give them, and that's why you entrusted them to us.

Then I come back to reality. It hits me that I don't know if you are noble or selfless. Maybe you are. Maybe you're cheerful, or impatient, or loyal, or lazy; maybe you are, you know, an actual human being. I don't know who you are. But I know one important thing about you: you are desperately poor. You didn't take the children to an orphanage because you had a vision for their future. You might have sent an adolescent away to fulfill his potential elsewhere, but not a three-year-old and a five-year-old. You took them to an orphanage so they could eat three times a day. This is desperation, not nobility.

The you in my head is proud. The real you... I don't know. Probably very sad.


  1. I long for the day we can go back to visit. Although I would then dread having to leave.

  2. I started bawling the other day, thinking to myself and knowing from photos we've gotten how sad her person is without our daughter. How that same desperation for her to have food, any food weighed more than anything else. And I hate every minute of that. Every minute. So hard. And I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking these things...alot.

  3. I think I am guilty of noble-izing our birth family. But I think I do it because I have to. If I spend too much time thinking about the real reasons, I couldn't make it through the day.

  4. I carry around similar thoughts. They are heavy, and difficult; the juxtaposition of why things were done in my head and in reality. Thank you for sharing your thoughts - it helps to know that there are others who feel the same way.

  5. "Probably very sad." Oh, yes, I think so. So very, very sad. On vacation, I was sitting with the luggage in the airport while Jarod took the girls to watch planes at the window. As I watched them walk away, the baby waving at me, I thought, "I don't know how someone can ever stand the good-bye being forever." But I guess they have to. Thank you for writing this.