Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bekalu Day

March 15, 2011 we were given the most awesome responsibility & amazing gift of raising a son. For us, this day was a day we had been dreaming of for more than two years. It marked the end of the roller coaster of "the wait" and the beginning of life as a family of four. Our joy was beautiful and pure.

For Bekalu, it marked a day when his life was again turned on end. Another BIG change. He had no choice, no say, no voice. When they brought him to us he was a ball of nerves and so terrified. His heart was pounding and he was stiff from fear. Who are these people? Why do they smell funny? What are they saying? WHERE AM I? These are the questions I imagine were running through his head. For these reasons we kept our joy calm and did not celebrate as you would think we might have. We tried to see the world through his eyes.

He arrived wearing layers of clothes and little jeans with pink bows and socks that were too small. For the longest time I could open the bag where we keep them and they still smelled of his foster center. The sweet smelling soap they must have used to clean everything is unforgettable. (I was so sad to discover last month the smell is now gone.) We did not immediately undress him and bathe him and look him over inch by inch. Oh how I wanted to though, I had missed an entire year with my son and I wanted to kiss every inch of him. But again, we saw through Bekalu's eyes, and patiently, we waited.

A few mornings later he woke for the first time with a smile instead of a confused cry. We were so relieved and happy. And honestly the past year has gotten better and better every day. We've had ups and downs but for the most part we have been lucky Bek settled in and quickly found his place in our family. So much so none of us can remember life without him in it.

Bekalu John, brother, son, beautiful beautiful baby boy, we love you SO MUCH. May you always know and trust that we are forever yours and you are forever ours. Family, Forever.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


p.s. update coming soon! Hope everyone has a magical holiday and VERY Happy New Year!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, indeed.

Today I got to open the best birthday gift ever...organized by the best husband ever and made possible by the best family and best friends a girl could ever ask for... again!

Many happy tears rolled while reading about these two wells.

The most awe inspiring and yet tragically sad charity:water campaign is Rachel's Campaign. I am certain she is smiling down at the thought of giving clean water to more than 60,000 people in her memory. Wow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16

One year ago today we first saw this beautiful face.

Bekalu John. Our boy, always and forever.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Update...long overdue.

Ummmmm. Wow. It's been how long since I've posted?

I guess I will say life is busy. VERY busy. I still can't figure out how adding this small little person feels like we've added 200 people to this family.

Bek is doing great. Awesome. Really really awesome. I am still in awe how he has quickly found a comfy spot in our family. It seriously feels like he has always been here and it's only been 2 months since he was placed in our arms forever.

We've been to all the docs and the grand consensus is: He. Is. Perfect. :)

So here is the run down on Mr. Bek....

He quickly moved from the arms-up wobbly walker to running at top speed.
He is signing the word "More"
Home three weeks, he said his first word. "Hi!" complete with a wave.
Other words he's using regularly: Hi, Bye-bye, Mama, Dada (sometimes also Gaga. Rolyn has a nickname!) Davis (sometimes Day-day) Cat, Book, Baba (for bottle) and More.
He is eating everything in sight.
He's had one tooth come in, giving him the grand total of seven. I think eight is right around the corner.
He is a climber. He is a mover of small furniture in order to climb. He is fast. All small furniture is now in storage until further notice.
He might have extend-o arms and legs. I haven't seen it with my eyes but I have seen the consequences. New mantra "Nothing is Safe."
He likes the toilet, thankfully he has yet to figure out it flushes. I fear I will need the number of a good plumber one day soon.
He loooooves his big sister. He thinks she hung the moon. The feeling is reciprocated. (This makes Mama&Dada so happy.)
He is a Belieber. Sigh. Yes, thanks to the influence of the 4.5 yr old moon hanger, Justin Bieber can get him squealing in delight with some serious booty shaking.
He loves Sandra Boynton's Moo Baaaa LaLaLa. He can read it one million times a day....or more.
He loves Davis' markers. Again, thankfully he has yet to realize the cap comes off. I now have a stash of Magic Erasers specifically for this day.
He is a flirt. He is effective.
He is cheeky. Very, very cheeky.
He likes to pull his sister's hair. He likes to pretend to pull his sister's hair even more. He grabs a curl and then cuts his eyes over to me. See above.
His smile is GOLDEN.

While we were waiting to bring Bekalu John home we were desperate for the monthly update that had a brief description of what he was doing or some other bit of insight into his personality. Almost every update for seven months ended with "What a happy little guy!"
Rolyn and I used to laugh and even made fun of it, because it started feeling a bit canned. Bek has been home for almost nine weeks and I cannot tell you how many times I've heard someone say this phrase. Over and over. Every single doctor he has seen, other mamas at school pick-up (yes, here in Brooklyn there is no car-pool line. We all hang out waiting on the sidewalk) even strangers on the street or on the train... "What a happy little guy!"

You know what,? It's true. He IS a happy little guy.
And that makes me so happy, so grateful, I could cry.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

International Adoption Doctor appointment.

First, because this is likely to be a short story that I make long and I want you to get this tip, the one thing you should know that I had not even thought about before meeting with the doctor...she mentioned casually "Bekalu should not be bathing with ANYone until we get the results back from all the tests. After he bathes the tub should be cleaned with bleach." errrrrrrrrrrrrr, ummmmmmmmmm, eek. At this point Bekalu had been home 2.5 weeks and I couldn't WAIT to have my babies in the bath together. Finally. So yeah, they took a bath together almost every night. Lovely. So now we are bathing a bleaching over here. Oh how I long for two bathtubs.

I think I'm still traumatized from the blood draw. Bek seems to have forgotten all about it. In fact, the moment it was over he passed out for about 10 minutes and when we woke up it was as if he had already moved on... He was all smiley and cheeky and giving the doctor high-fives. She mentioned that babies don't have it in them to be mad. hmmmmmm. Maybe? The end of our appointment she apologized for the "extra stick" and in my head I thought "ssssssssssssssss" (as in extra stickSSSSS)

They took four huge vials of blood for all the testing that goes on, and it's "easier and faster" to draw from the jugular vein. Let me just say, this was not fun for anyone involved. Easier and faster would not be words I would use to describe this procedure. Poor little guy. The first stick was his left jugular vein. He was on the table with his head hanging off into her lap. There was another student in her 4th year of med school assisting. Rolyn was asked to lie on top of Bek to keep him still. I was on top of Rolyn reaching around to hold Bek's arms. He screamed. No, no, he HOWLED. It was horrible. And he is so strong that he could not be held down and the vein was punctured rendering it useless.

Stick two: Left arm. For this try they broke out the papoose. My heart rate suddenly increased. One of my earliest childhood memories is being released from such a device. I had to get three stitches in my head and my father almost walked out of the ER with me because they could not hold me down for three measly stitches. The papoose was brought in and three stiches were stitched. I still remember the feeling when they released me....

Back to Bek... They strapped him in and he was still howling. Stick number two painfully and painfully slowly filled one vial of blood before Bek won again. He literally forced the needle out of the vein and broke free of the papoose to get his thumb in his mouth. POOR BABY!

Stick three back to the jugular but this time the other side. At this point it was as if he had all but resigned himself to the blood draw. He still struggled and howled but he had lost some strength in his fight. I was so relieved when we were done and he was soaked with sweat and limp from exhaustion. He curled up and passed out. Little love.

The rest of the appointment went great. Dr. Aronson is a pro and her practice is solely children who have been adopted. She spent the next hour+ checking him out head to toe and asking questions about all the things he is doing. She did a consultation of our referral paperwork back in August so she has been with us from the start. She stated emphatically "The scale and measuring tape in ET were clearly wrong. Which is fine, and is to be expected really. But THIS is NOT the same boy in your referral paperwork." I just smiled and said ok, but in my head I was thinking THANK YOU Gladney. THANK YOU amazing and loving nannies who took care of my son for eight months. It affirmed why we chose this agency. After seeing the care centers and the work that Gladney and Gladney families do for the children of Ethiopia (and not just the ones who will be adopted) with my own eyes I knew we had made the right choice. 100%. Dr. Aronson just gave me affirmation yet again.

Her assessment was "He is perfect." A fact I could have told her myself, but it was nice to hear from a doctor who has likely seen it all. She said he seems to be advanced in the amount of "words" he's using and the inflection in his babble made her very happy. She did not expect to get any crazy results back from the test they were running. We left with referrals for five other doctors to see. So we're not over this yet...but we feel great about the physical health of our boy.

My favorite part of this story is the four days of testing that required stool samples be dropped off at a lab. Favorite part? Really Heather? Yes! This has by far been the easiest thing we've done so far in this whole adoption. For one Bek completely cooperated with giving us the goods and get this...the lab for drop off is only two blocks from our apartment. :)

I'm looking forward to Bekalu being in the "all clear" and soon will be visiting the "normal" pediatrician, like a "normal" boy...for well visits of course!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Thank you to everyone that came by yesterday and remembered T&O with me. Even if you didn't comment, I saw the spike on my tracker. I definitely felt the love yesterday.

My mind drifted all day and one thing that I kept coming back to was this map. It charts the infant mortality rate across the world. The number of infant deaths under one year of age per 1,000 births. Ethiopia's number is 81. That's almost 10%. And they are nowhere near top of the list. In fact, they are number twenty. In Angola the infant death rate more than doubles to 180. Afghanistan, 152.

If a baby is lucky enough to survive birth, the next statistic to conquer is the child mortality rate. One of unicef's goals is to reduce the child mortality world wide.

About 29,000 children under the age of five – 21 each minute – die every day, mainly from preventable causes.

More than 70 per cent of almost 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.

These deaths occur mainly in the developing world. An Ethiopian child is 30 times more likely to die by his or her fifth birthday than a child in Western Europe. Among deaths in children, South-central Asia has the highest number of neonatal deaths, while sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates. Two-thirds of deaths occur in just 10 countries.

And the majority are preventable. Some of the deaths occur from illnesses like measles, malaria or tetanus.

The orphanage where Bekalu was for a brief moment before Gladney took him into their care lost SEVEN babies in one night last year. Seven babies. Why did these babies die? Chicken Pox. Yes, you read that correctly. Chicken Pox. The thought, no the reality of this breaks my heart into a million pieces.

I cannot imagine having a sick or hungry child and being able to do nothing. The problem feels so huge and massive when you look at the numbers doesn't it? I am not sure what the answer is really. But yesterday this information weighed on my heart. And it makes me so grateful that that my beautiful boy was not one of eight-one. So grateful he landed in Gladney's care and was matched with be our son. I'm also thankful I myself was not born in an impoverished country that is war torn, or in the midst of famine and drought. Clean water (or WATER of any kind) is readily available, I don't have to decide whether to send my daughter to school or to collect water for her family. My fate not sealed merely by the location of my birth.

Today and everyday I'm thinking of all the strong mothers and fathers across the planet that are forced to hold broken hearts. Because a broken heart is a heavy load to carry.