How is it possible that it’s only been six days? We arrived home on Sunday night, and now it’s Saturday, right? It feels like it’s been a month!
So what is it like to go from zero to three children, with a major language barrier, jet lag and culture shock? AN ADVENTURE! Though, while it sounds insurmountable, it’s actually going better than I expected it to. I attribute this to the kids being outstanding. And to us getting wise advice from fellow adoptive parents. As far as benefits to bringing home three at once, the main one would be Alex, our oldest. He’s eager to help, he speaks to his brother in Amharic which helps alleviate some of both of their frustrations, and he’s great with the baby. This morning I taught Alex how to break eggs into a bowl without getting any shell in them. He has learned generally how to set and clear the table. He puts away toys. He teaches us words in Amharic and works hard to learn English. He likes to vaccuum and water flowers. If we were to just bring home Eliana and Melkam it would be a completely different, and MUCH more difficult dynamic. I’m so grateful that we worked past our fears and accepted this older child! If you are considering it, but are apprehensive, take this as encouragement to go out on a limb.
Now he’s not perfect of course, and we find that both of the boys are capable of a shocking Ethiopian rudeness. The scowl and that famous one-shoulder-shrug in the heat of the moment is infuriating. Here’s an example: One of the kind and very professional flight attendants in business class on Lufthansa offered Alex a drink. He snarled up his face, wagged his finger at her, and shouted “NO!” and with that, dismissed her and went back to what he was doing. Charles and I were stunned speechless, regaining composure only to offer a quick apology on behalf of our son from another planet before she moved on. Alex was oblivious. I’m sure he assumes it’s ok for boys to behave like that in the rest of the world.
The hardest thing for me is that the kids reject comfort, even when they are hurt or scared or upset. I hope this will pass as we prove ourselves trustworthy in their eyes, but in the meantime it might kill me. You’d understand if you saw how unbelievably adorable Melkam is, and what a little guy he is. Everything in a mother’s body wants to hug and hold that little boy and he aggressively rejects me.
Melkam had an accident on each of the three flights we took home, wetting through his clothes and onto the seats. As a result of this experience, and confirming with AAI that he indeed has a history of bed wetting, he’s in pull-ups during naptime and bed. The introduction of this idea was met with a major meltdown. He scream-cried for 20-30 minutes. I sat and rubbed his back (at least some kind of touch he would allow) and prayed for him. I think the emotional outburst helps him process much more than the insult of wearing pull-ups. He’s had two more similar outbursts this week, but once he has yelled it all out, he calms down, accepts help and rejoins the group. I think he’s doing great.
Thursday was bike day. We have bikes for the boys, but they were both too big. In fact, the smaller of the two was too big for Alex even. We were able to get a little tiny one from our neighbor for Melkam, and we traded the medium-sized bike with another friend for a smaller one. Alex was finally happy, and another neighbor had some training wheels that fit, so Alex was VERY happy! He had been so frustrated watching his little brother tool around the sidewalks on training wheels while Alex struggled.
We visited the police station and took advantage of a new program they have where they are giving away free bike helmets. Very nice helmets too! The boys both chose red ones. Melkam likes his so much he wore it around the house most of the day yesterday.
Here are some photos: