Posts by thehallscommonplace

There’s a crazy Barbie in my son’s crib.

Last month our updates were delayed by a computer malfunction at the transition home. It was a big bummer, but when we did receive the latest on our boy, I soaked up every detail of the report and pictures. We were delighted to see a bald Baby S, fresh from a clipper line-up, no doubt. THE cutest bald head, right?Commonplace

In the uncropped photo, he’s very much standing right at the edge of his purple crib, looking every bit of his nine months. Sigh…

The next best thing about this picture is Crazy Barbie.

Reasons:

1) um, that she’s there at all.

2) that she seems to be having a super time. Live it up now, Barbie. (I promise I will be bumping her from her post just as soon as possible. I kind of feel like she might be rubbing in this whole “I’m here, you’re not” thing a little.)

3) that she’s white. And every child in the transition home is not. And every nanny is not. But (most) every adoptive parent from our agency simply is. It’s a beautiful non-thing, really.

Sidenote: Ever been shopping for a dark skinned Barbie? Or toy? It’s worth the excercise, promise.

I had no thoughts about color when I was very young. No conversations with my parents that I can remember. Very few personal friends of different shades. But…I vividly remember my mom buying me a family of beautiful, dark skinned Barbies. I noticed the difference right away. I think I might have even smiled nervously, unsure. She didn’t say a word, but the gesture was epic and formative, as I now look back. And, of course, in the next blink, I know my little girl self was off playing with my four brand new Barbies (because that is what kids do with great and new toys). It was a score.

A million points for toy diversity. 😉

4) that she is anything but off-the-shelf. Maybe a few too many smacks at the mercy of a wired toddler? (Hopefully if S stares at her a little everyday, he’ll have no fear at all when he sees me in the morning. Ha!)

5) that the sassy Barb made me laugh.

Yes, God’s grace absolutely can take the shape of a misplaced toy on my son’s crib. He knows what we need, and I needed that laugh.

We’ve hit another familiar little policy bump in the road. The timing doesn’t feel super, but we know better than to complain too loudly. We’ve seen a whole lot more grace than we deserve.

 

For us, right now, there’s so, so much grace in all of you checking in on us in your various wonderful ways. To name a few: a funny t-shirt, a friend remembering an important-to-us date, a sneaky check, a phone call, a suitcase of donations (MOPS moms!!!), a thinking of you text, a written prayer, a package of little boy treasures from a photo client, a listen that only a sister can give, an entire small group’s willingness to host a post-Halloween party “in case we [had] to travel with our trick or treater” (Shucks, we didn’t. But a nice offer, just the same.), a couple of you who have shared our burden right alongside some of your own very big burdens, affirmation, several “I want to do this for you guys” statements, and the kind of “I’m praying for you” that is the. real. deal.

Let me tell you, the real deal works every time. For every circumstance. And truthfully, some of you have flat out bested us at our own We’ve Got This model. You snuck in and showed us God’s grace in these genuine gestures, and it really does make waiting much easier. So, thanks for butting in and being so nice.

Back to Barbie…

That flailing gal was either a donation to the transition home or a gift to a child living there. Next to his medical notes, the September report didn’t specify whether Baby S actually plays with Barbie (He should. She seems great.), but I do know that he has been part of a system that is largely resourced by donations. His diapers, wipes, formula, food, clothing, bed sheets, toys come from the transition home supplies, mostly stocked by traveling families. It’s a beautiful system, and we’re grateful for the families who traveled before us.

To be honest, we’re not used to receiving charity or having a child who needs it. Despite our We’ve Got This model, our family of four has indeed needed grace and stuff. Humbling.

Grace and stuff.

I could not begin to dictate the exact right ways to put that powerful combo together, but I do know that there seem to be plenty of opportunities, all the time and everywhere, to try to give a little of both.

There is just no denying its impact. 

We’re grateful. And also still very joyful and excited. Last week our agency hosted a conference call about this new government change. We feel at peace with the information we have, and we’ll wait until we hear more about our last document.

In the meantime, we’ve entrusted Barbie to watch over that little bald head.

 

Present Here, Ready for There

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Our little family is trying to maintain a “Present Here, Ready for There” kind of existence. Somehow, we’re managing to stay grounded in the in between.

After my last post, we had a rare international phone chat with Nathan’s brother and our sister-in-law. They live in Rwanda, but the beautiful picture above is from their April trip to Ethiopia. I love it. Phone calls are always a priceless time, mostly because we crazy miss them. Also because…Nathan and I are only so-so at sharing a phone, and…I’m pretty sure the conversation was cut off exactly four times. Worth it though. Toward the end of the much needed chat, Travis reflected on our forty day waiting period. [Court closure (probably) caused a little extra adoption wait time for us.] He acknowledged the wait. And the rain. You see, while we have been waiting to meet our boy, Ethiopia has been in the middle of one of its rainy seasons.  Perhaps, he said, this will give you a new perspective on the biblical story of Noah. Maybe, he said, you have the opportunity to practice the kind of faith that only comes with working toward an abstract, bigger-than-you goal. Certainly, he confirmed, this is a time of purpose. Forty days. To be still and wait. To plan and prepare. To be unsure and hope. To rejoice with Ethiopia’s rain.

Okay, I am paraphrasing a bit here, and trying to tread lightly with the parallels, but these were the themes. Thought-provoking and challenging. Classic Travis.

As a kid, I was honestly horrified by the story of the ark and the flood. Still am. Frankly, I don’t always know where to place this story’s tragedy (and many, many of today’s human tragedies) in my theology, in my faith.

Here’s what I do know:

The wait, all of it, has been a rich time for us.

We’ve had a few notable moments when, even in hindsight, it seems like we could easily assess our circumstances, stamp our glass HALF EMPTY, and the rest of the world would join us in calling it so. There’s not a thing wrong with acknowledging hardship. It can be so necessary. Still, there’s a scary gravity that comes with being in charge of our own PR. Nathan and I have confessed to each other several times that we especially feel the weight of our adoption press. We know there would be real tragedy in centering that unique story in the negatives.

In truth, the immediate slow-down of Ethiopian adoptions allowed us more time to honor and respect this foreign country and to posture an attitude of humility rather than entitlement.

In truth, a long wait equaled countless happy moments with our firstborn and much needed time to become resource-ready for our second.

In truth, the heartache that came with trying to add to our family made us even more certain of this adoption, this baby. The month-long threat of Ethiopia closing international adoptions made us more certain still of this adoption, this baby.

In truth, separation makes us miss a child we haven’t met.

This is beautiful, all of it, and we feel responsible to call it so.

As for the additional 40 days during court closure? Well, that’s been a really sweet time too. Far beyond us, though, it’s a necessary time for Ethiopia. When we really consider why we are waiting, the reason courts are closed, it is easy to just sit tight and wait. Ethiopia needs rain. Crops like maize, wheat, and sorghum depend on adequate rain. These crops will need to stretch further as Ethiopia accepts and will continue to accept refugees. Below average harvests or suffering pasture lands are devastating to poor households.

While the rains came, Nathan and I were eager to join forces with Team Anita and help plan the Team Anita – Pay It Forward Golf Tournament. I know zip-zero about golf, but I still take notes from Anita all the time. She was just one of those gems who had big reasons to complain but chose instead to make her story greater than the negatives in her life. I love seeing the good work that her faith continues to carry out. 

We’ve also used the last month or so to furiously learn. Of course, we’ve already done some training and read a book or two on the stuff of adoption, of Ethiopia, of attachment, of the political and ethical underpinnings of it all, but I’ve had a new fervor. Apparently, this hunt for info is some kind of primal need that trumps cleaning or nesting or packing. I want to know what I don’t know.

Which is a lot.

No surprise here: I still don’t know very much, but I’m all about recommending content that is helpful to curious passersby. Look me up.

 

We’re still waiting. Not necessarily the ark-building kind of wait (lest you think I have a Noah Complex), but it is a faith wait, for sure. Thanks be to God, for moving us along, each step of the way.

Here’s the latest:

  • Courts open next week on Monday the 6th.
  • Two families have already been given dates to travel by the end of this week. Happiness! And also, woah, holy cow! (unexpectedly soon for these families)
  • We still need that one little letter…that we can only assume is going to take several weeks + to be issued. Maybe. Probably. Who knows.
  • We’re pumped, pumped, pumped.
  • Baby S is getting older and wiser and cuter.
  • Turns out, Steak N Shake’s Happy Hour milkshakes alleviate nervous energy tremendously…

and also might be adding to our baby weight. 😉