Monday, April 9, 2012

Let me call you sweetheart

It's a rather odd experience sending a birthday card to someone we've never met.  Specifically, someone that we anticipate will be our daughter.  First, I looked up "happy birthday" in Lithuanian.  But I know GoogleTranslate is a fickle, fickle beast, so I also checked out a few other sites.  All three had different variations.  I went with Lithuanian Out Loud, because Jack and Raminta are da bomb.  Plus, they're actual human beings, one of whom is an actual native speaker.   Then the next question--do we just say "Happy Birthday" or do we say, "Happy birthday, sweetie"?  Because, you know, she's our little girl.  But then again, is it weird to call someone sweetie when they don't know you?  And what if I screw it up and use the masculine form of sweetie?  (Again, I deferred to the collective wisdom of Jack and Raminta.)  When I asked the Winemaker if we should add on a term of endearment, he wrinkled his eyebrows at me becomingly, then said yes.  We should say Happy birthday sweetie.  So I did.

Phew.  Parenting is exhausting. 

(little joke, there.) 

Then I did my own becoming eyebrow thing at the Winemaker and asked if I could cannabalize two awards from his former job in order to frame some prints I just had made of the photos we got from the Children's Home.  Cheap is the new thrifty, right?  Perfectly good frames sitting in a box for years on end, when they could be sitting on our dresser, surrounding two serious and sweet little faces.  So that's all taken care of.  Logging off now, to go stare at their pictures.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sandwich Moment

My husband and I go to our credit union early on a Saturday.  My sister and brother-in-law are bringing my dad, and we're finally going to get a power of attorney signed.  Sis and I tried the day before, but we needed two witnesses, and for some weird reason, the bank wouldn't let us use their employees.  So The Winemaker and I are sitting there, when the teenager young man who's notarized all our adoption paperwork notices us.  He says, "Hi, Jon and Wendy!  Do you need me to notarize something?"  I couldn't believe he knew us by name!

So there we have it.  Our adoption journey and the aging dad thing right up against each other.

Damn, we have good friends.

We decided to adopt kids.  We decided specifically to adopt kids who live far away.  We made this decision when one of us was unemployed.  Now, suddenly, the kids are on the way, and there are all these huge bills, and we're kind of freaking out.  So, after much hemming and hawing,  we asked our friends for help.  (Turns out that ALREADY parenthood is changing us.  Something I would be mortified to do for myself I'm willing to do for the sake of getting my kids home.) 

I would not have been shocked if our friends responded with "Um, sure, and can you help us with our bills too?"  Or by sending us five bucks apiece.  Because, like I said, WE decided to do this.  How is it THEIR problem?

In the, oh, ten days since we started asking for help, various friends have:
  • donated enough money to cover the finalization fees, and the re-adoption fees.
  • gotten one of their friends--a stranger to us--to turn their moving sale into a multi-family garage sale with all proceeds going to us
  • written letters for us supporting our application for a grant--letters, I add, that are heartfelt and persuasive and much better written than our actual grant application.  If we get the grant, it's all due to those letters. 
  • offered us a bed for the girl's bedroom
  • sent emails, invited us to dinner, taken us out for coffee, and actually REQUESTED that we show the adoption video and let us talk ad nauseum about the kids and the process
  • offered sage advice on continuing fundraising, and in a few cases, offered to host specific events
  • donated items for a proposed silent auction
  • probably other stuff that I'm forgetting right now
I'm not a religious feeling, but the only way to describe how all this makes me feel is blessed.  Blessed by our friends' generosity.  Blessed even more by the love behind it.  And two things occur to me:

  1. If we hadn't swallowed our pride and asked for help, we never would have known the full extent of our friends' love and generosity.
  2. People love kids.  They love their own family, so they want us to have a family.  They love their own children, so they want these children to have a home.  It really resonates with them. 
I've been doing so much reading lately, and one theme that comes up over and over is that adoption comes from deep loss,and international adoption adds an extra layer.  If childhood goes the way its supposed to, you don't need to be adopted.  But if your parents aren't able to care for you, then family should be stepping in.  If that's not possible, then someone in your own country who actually, you  know, speaks your language could adopt you.  To be sent halfway around the world to live with strangers you can't communicate with, who keep trying to make you eat weird food and follow strange customs--and in the meantime, you're still trying to process all the crap you've lived through already, to deal with your fear and guilt and enormous sense of loss and alienation--not a joyful occasion.  (And just for the record--infertility is not a hugely joyful thing either, although it didn't rip us to pieces like it does for some.)

Our friends, however, see joy here.  And they are not wrong.  Children leaving an orphanage and coming into a family is joy.  Would-be parents finding children to love is joy.  I must stay aware of and supportive of my children's struggles, but I must also expect and accept joy, for them, for us.  So I am grateful for the love, I am grateful for the generosity, and I am grateful for the reminder to be joyful.