Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tenacious Tiruye

My baby turned three last week and the word tenacious was made to describe her:

  1. Not readily letting go of, giving up, or separated from an object that one holds, a position, or a principle: "a tenacious grip".
  2. Not easily dispelled or discouraged; persisting in existence or in a course of action: "a tenacious legend".
This little girl possesses the strongest spirit. Those who know our children can attest that the others are no wallflowers and certainly have their own convictions. Miss Zelda Tiruye is in a league of her own, however, and how we all love her. Her ability to persevere in the face of discouragement will serve her well as she grows into a confident young woman. One of the most endearing aspects of Tiruye is her insistence on getting the cuddles and care that she needs. I often think she's taken it upon herself to make up for all the bonding and affection she missed out on during her months of institutional care. She has the entire family wrapped around her tiny little finger and I'm delighted that the baby of our family is so dedicated to getting rocked and held as much as possible.

 Tiruye loves playing Mommy and Daddy with Tegegn. She adores her baby dolls and any real babies we come across. She thinks her older siblings are awesome. She likes to pretend to steal peoples' noses and eat them. She is completely and utterly enamored with the youngest Peep-Eye kiddo and has asked for her room to be decorated with pictures of A. She has taken to swimming lessons with great joy and fearlessness.

Tiruye, our sweet baby, you and Atticus form the perfect bookends of our family with your twinned iron wills and hearts of gold. We love you so much and our lives are better because of your presence. Thanks for being in our family, little girl!

[NB: Please note that I can't take the credit for either of the cakes pictured above. The awesome squid was made by my sister-in-law to celebrate Tiruye and her cousin's shared birthday and the ladybug cake was made by Mama Peep-Eye for her own new three-year-old. That didn't stop Tiruye from blowing out the candles on A's cake though.]

Monday, June 10, 2013

School's Out for Summer

Moving and Some Thoughts on Transracial Adoption

My darling eldest child was astonished to see these previously-lost pictures from when Paul and I bought our house nearly eight years ago. I'm too short on time to make Blogger behave and put my photos in correct before-and-after order. Hint: A certain child thinks it all looked better before we ripped out the wall-to-wall carpet and added color to the walls.

One message that comes up over and over again in interviews with adult transracial adoptees is that growing up in an environment where there are other people who "match" them is important. It is quite frequently cited as the best thing their parents did do or the one major thing they wish their parents had done differently. We've seen adoptive parenting friends grapple with this and have felt good about our old house being in a diverse neighborhood that allows our children to attend a great school where they are far from being the token children of color. In addition, Paul and I felt strongly when we bought our first house that we didn't want to raise our hypothetical kids in a homogeneous suburb where everyone appears to have a 3,000 square foot house, two newer cars, a neatly tended lawn, and an empty wooden swing set in the backyard.

The reality of living in our city, however, is that racially and socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods are few and far between. As we frowned through the listings of available homes, there were many times that I was tempted to throw in the towel and move to a nice sheltered subdivision even if it meant that the kids would be growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood. As we've worked our way into parenthood, the lure of the previously scorned suburbia has called to me. I see its appeal quite clearly now.

Fortunately, a clearer head (Paul's) prevailed and we were able to find a great house just a few blocks away from the one we were selling. I love the new house which has plenty of historic charm as well as some of the thrills that only make your heart go pitter-patter if you're an adult (More than one bathtub! A garage! A mudroom closet by the back door so that all the kids' snowy, muddy clothes don't end up in the front hall where they're visible to everyone who comes in! A new furnace, roof, and windows!) Still, I was harboring doubts about whether we'd made the right decision. Does living in a racially diverse neighborhood really matter that much? More than quiet cul-de-sacs and schools that can boast that the vast majority of students pass their standardized tests? Had we made the right choice?

Then, a couple of days ago, as we drove past the new house to wave hello to it, Atticus piped up from the backseat. "Mama? You know what I really like about our old house? A lot of the neighbors have brown skin like me and Norah and Tegegn and Tiruye. I'm really worried that there won't be anyone with brown skin who lives near our new house."

There are so few moments in parenting when you get to feel that you clearly made the right decision for your own family, but this was one of those rare moments that felt like a gift. Even though none of our kids had mentioned it before, they've clearly been taking note of their surroundings. It does matter to them. This one time, I'm 99% sure, we made the right choice.

Work Plan

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Atticus Is Six!

I don't know who gave him these, since the many children present conspired to open gifts haphazardly, but they were a HUGE hit - and good for use as a parenting tool, too.

This was a very large and unguarded pit next to the playground. It was fascinating to children of all ages.

Atticus has recently become fascinated by kid-level biographies about people like Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Ruby Bridges, and George Washington Carver. As we finished our most recent book about George Washington Carver tonight, Atticus was upset because he hasn't done anything amazing enough yet with his own life to merit having a book written about it. My oldest kiddo, such a deep thinker. I suspect he will do many great things with his time on Earth.

Here are some important pieces of information about Atticus at six:
  • He loves building and creating things. He spent two hours recently making his own golf clubs out of duct tape.
  • Digging in the backyard can still keep him busy for hours on end. 
  • Atticus is such a good big brother. Truly, he has exceeded my highest expectations about how he would handle having new siblings. He takes his job very seriously and is awesome with Tegegn and Tiruye.
  • He is enormously curious about the world and how it works. He asks really hard questions.
  • He still likes to snuggle and cuddle, and be hugged. My heart is going to break when he doesn't want those things anymore.
  • He's lost four teeth in the last year. I'm starting to worry that his top teeth might never grown in completely, but I think it's cute.
Atticus, our amazingly complicated and lovable boy, we love you to infinity and beyond and are so grateful to be your parents!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tegegn Is Three!

This little guy's smile lights up a room. Oh, how we love our Tegegn!

When the director of our adoption agency called to give us our referral in July of 2011, I managed to hold my emotions in-check until she told us Tegegn's birthday. He shares it with my late grandfather with whom I was very close and it felt like one of those magical adoption coincidences to be matched with a son who was born on the same day as my grandpa.

Here are some facts about Tegegn at the awesome age of three:
  • He makes us look like fabulous parents. This kid is almost always happy. He loves to go places and generally behaves beautifully while he's there. Any outing is an exciting one as far as Tegegn is concerned!
  • Tegegn's version of a temper tantrum is to sink silently down onto his stomach and raise his head to glare at you accusingly every few seconds. This repeats for about a minute and then he gets up and moves on with his happy life.
  • He has a happy bounce when he walks.
  • He loves giving kisses and hugs.
  • Trucks, his bicycle, and babydolls are his favorite toys. He also really likes putting on fancy dresses and twirling.
  • Tegegn is not prone to mischief, but on the rare occasions that he gets into things, he goes big. Cases in point: drawing all over our kitchen floor with red Sharpie the day before we were having an open house to sell it and using his frozen Go-Gurt to scribble on all seven of our kitchen windows in the time it took me to run upstairs for a couple of minutes. He was very proud of himself both times. Full-fat Greek yogurt is very difficult to thoroughly clean off of glass.
  • He really likes vegetables and is the only child I know who loves hot sauce and requests it on his food.
  • Did I mention how loving he is? Those of us in his inner-circle are showered with love and affection.
We feel incredibly lucky to be the parents of this sweet, sweet kid and it's so much fun to see him growing and developing each day. We love you, Tegegn!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Moment Captured by Atticus for the Enjoyment of His Class

"My baby sister saw Tegegn pee in the cereal bowl. It was in the bathroom." I'm sure Atticus's teacher shares our pride in how far his writing has come this year. Oh, the pride. As a bit of explanation, Tegegn had been required to give a urine sample at the doctor's office and the praise he received motivated him a little too much to repeat the feat at home.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

525,600 Minutes (Give or Take a Few)

I shall not attempt to recap the last couple of months. I've been terrible at documenting our kids' lives. I went back to work around the time of the last blog entry. Tegegn and Tiruye adjusted quite smoothly to their Grandma Bebee's daycare and we've been super lucky to have help from all of the grandparents to make our days flow easily.  Atticus and Norah are growing, growing, growing like weeds. They are both beginning to write and read and I love watching them develop as independent thinkers.

This week we celebrated Tegegn and Tiruye's first Family Day. The bottom three pictures above are from the airport last year on 4/3/12. They have flourished  and we're so grateful to have them in our family.