Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Flashback: notes from an adoption

(Readers note: the rumpled brainiac who writes Euro Like Me is on holiday, so the Blog Drone 2000XdW will be posting a few of his old journal entries for him. So sit back, and get out your handkerchiefs: This is a little number from our earliest days as adoptive parents-to-be....)

april 18 2003
On the phone all day: with the State Department, with the former INS--now known as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, with international adoption advocates and other strangers, and all of the sudden, as I sit at my computer, half-reading the Ethiopian government's requirements for adopting a child in their country, I get to a line about how all the court documents in Addis Ababa, where we will be adopting our daughter, have to be translated out of Amharic and into English, and I start crying. Like a big baby.

I'm not even sure why. Something about that word "Amharic," and its place in this sentence that I am reading, this information that I will soon be using to take a child away from everything Amharic and Ethiopian and African to come live with me and Anette as our little girl, something in the tragedy and miracle of that fact hits me. Hits me now, and that's strange: we've been working on this adventure for a few months now, but it's only real to me in flashes like this.

And the flashes are overwhelming: I think about how hurt and sad we were when we tried to make a baby, in-vitro styley, this summer and it didn't work; I think about how fucked up it is that all them kids in Addis Ababa don't have parents; I imagine a slim Ethiopian woman in a light brown wrap--fuck, I don't even know what Ethiopians call their clothes--hurrying through the city with a baby, thinking back about all the things she wishes, all the reasons she can't keep the little girl in her arms, all the things that put her in this place, and I imagine her setting that baby down on the steps underneath a statue, in a public park somewhere in the City, a place that's not too crowded but not too deserted either, a place where she knows her child will be found.

Maybe she leaves the park, maybe she walks to a spot a couple of hundred yards away, so she can watch and make sure someone picks up her baby and takes her to a policeman. Think about the people there in the park, who see the woman come in, and maybe they've seen this so many times they know that she's there to leave her baby behind; think about the person who finds this little girl, a couple of months old, if that, laying wrapped in a blanket in a cardboard box, crying for someone, someone who might help.

I don't out and out sob, I just cry in little jags. Once I know it's coming, I give up reading the State Department web page, and just give myself over to it by putting on some old Fairport Convention (which will make me cry almost any day) and getting out our travel guide to look at the people and places in that land. I find myself apologizing to the Ethiopians in the pictures, not because I feel guilty that we may take one of their daughters away from them, but more because I'm thinking something like: "I'm sorry the world is like this."

1 comment:

Flashtrigger said...

I'm glad you're open. I'm hoping you still are, to the culture of your daughter's birth country. She'll have questions and will have some identity crisis when she gets older...not guaranteed, but likely. It's such a touchy subject...please don't make her feel as if she can't ask those questions.
Maybe I'm coming at it all wrong; I'm so happy you chose adoption. I was adopted, and that's why I say these things. But some simply assume that once the papers are signed, that's it: a flawless assimilation into the new family. Sometimes (most times) that's just not so.
Thanks for posting. I read it twice.