Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What We Sent, What it Meant. Part II-One Voice


$34.99.

Thirty-four dollars, and ninety-nine cents. This may be the best money we ever spent. On the advice of this mom we sent a voice recorder to Meazi. We also purchased and sent one to Melese, but I don't think his was ever used.

We filled Meazi's recorder with songs, stories, and sounds from our home. Of course we were pronouncing her name wrong during the whole recording process, but I think she will eventually forgive us for that. This voice recorder was the single most important item that we sent ahead of time to Meazi.

I had wondered if the nannies at the orphanage would have the time to find it, give it to her, and show her how to use it. I thought it was a long shot, and that surely the staff had more pressing things to take care of at a very busy care center. I thought about how every single Ethiopian person that I know loves the singer Gigi. I thought that if I put a Gigi song on the recording, it would definitely get played.

It was played. And played again. I don't think I can convey how useful this small item became when we actually got to Ethiopia.

Meazi was afraid. Wouldn't you be if these two people came to take you home with them? I had asked the nannies for the care package back. Our agency did a great job with the transition period for the children. You'd see them briefly the first couple of days, and eventually they would spend more time with you. In the beginning, when Meazi and Melese started coming back to the guest house with us, Meazi would cling to that recorder. She would fast-forward, rewind, and flip the tape over to the other side. I would hear my own voice reading a story, or mispronouncing her name. She would be holding it up to hear ear, eyes wide, staring at me, trying to put the voice to my face. She did it with Steven's voice too. It was as if she was confirming what the social workers and nannies had been telling her; these people are your adoptive parents.

Meazi was terrified the night we took her into custody. The day, although celebratory in some ways, was one of the saddest days of my whole life, and I am sure it was one of the scariest days of her whole life. It is why we will never celebrate it as a "Gotcha" day, not ever.

She kept listening to the recorder. She walked around our small guest room listening to it over and over, the metal up against her ear.

It played the Gigi song. I chimed in, "To the one God we all have, to the one God we all love...." She looked at me. She couldn't believe that I knew the words. She smiled. When we got to the "Sing, sing" part, we sang together, she in a very soft breathy voice, (a voice that she sometimes uses now and will always be an indicator to me that she is feeling scared). From that point forward, we would always sing those parts together. Eventually, during that adoption week, she started to put the recorder down.

When something came up that was disconcerting to her, she would look at me with those gigantic eyes and start singing those words, waiting for me to sing with her. I would, she would smile, and then relax a little. It would happen several times a day. My mom had sent along a little "lovey" for Meazi, you know those mini-blanket things that kids sometimes use for security? It was soft and cute with a puppy head at the top. Meazi had no interest in it. This cold, metal, voice recorder was Meazi's lovey. The music on it was a universal language. It was our way to communicate when communication seemed impossible.

When we got home, Meazi had the recorder with her for the first few weeks, if not held up against her ear, then in very close proximity. She always knew where it was.

I played some Ethiopian videos for Meazi on Youtube when we got home. Almost every morning, for the first few weeks, Meazi would wake up and say, "Gigi mommy." Groggily we would make our way to my computer, go to the link, and play the song that helped us come together.

One of our first days home...

video

More recently...


video

Thirty-four dollars and ninety-nine cents.

25 comments:

  1. I'm crying into my coffee over this post...

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  2. my daughter Jane: Mom, is that the keep on truckin' girl? I really really like her.

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  3. my daughter jane: Mom! Is that the Keep On Truckin; girl? I really like her.

    Voice recorder. Check.

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  4. Oh Julie- I wish I would have thought of that for Kaia. What a huge impact this little device had on your connection with each other. Beautiful.

    btw-we never have and never will celebrate gotcha day either, for that very same reason.

    Charlotte

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  5. You guys have done so very much right with this little girl. It's so wonderful to see. Wow.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Good things come to those who wait!!!

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  6. wow. seriously, are you going to write a book?

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  7. I've got goosebumps all over. The tape recorder, what a fabulous idea and am filing it away for the future. From now on, I will always think of your sweet girl when I hear that song.

    And I've always hated that word "gotcha".

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  8. I sent one both times. Well, the same one actually with some crossing out.

    17.49

    Changed everything.

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  9. one of the best post-adoption posts anywhere by anyone.

    truly wonderful - please, please, please, submit this to some publication with a wide PAP audience - i've never heard of this and what an impact it had for your sweet family. I LOVE the idea of putting a song on it that would have the nannies playing it.

    Of course, i'm all teary eyed. Luckily i'm not wearing mascara as i'm sitting in my local cafe at the moment.

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  10. Is it me, or is that girl of yours pure perfection?

    We sent a photo book. Once of those teether books w/ the puffy pages for babies. It was filled with us, the dog, and grandparents. We didn't figure anyone would show it to Sam, but maybe, just maybe it would be placed in his crib and he would see some of the pictures.

    When we arrived in-country, it was very clear that his nannies had shown him the pictures. (1) his nannies seemed to KNOW us (2) Sam immediately went into our arms and nuzzled and was comfortable. He wasn't like this with everyone, just us. So, I think it was invaluable. I mean, come on, 2 crazy-looking white people take you away from your home and you're okay with it? at 10 mos? Not likely, unless they looked familiar.

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  11. Gosh, Julie, I've said it before and I'll say it again - that is one smart girl you have. Emotionally smart.

    Gotcha day - I agree. I always go back to the Paul Simon song - Mother and Child Reunion.

    No I would not give you false hope
    On this strange and mournful day
    But the mother and child reunion
    Is only a motion away, oh little darling of mine
    I can't for the life of me
    Remember a sadder day
    I know they say let it be
    But it just don't work out that way
    And the course of a lifetime runs
    Over and over again

    No I would not give you false hope
    On this strange and mournful day
    But the mother and child reunion
    Is only a motion away

    I just can't believe it's so,
    And though it seems strange to say
    I never been laid so low
    In such a mysterious way
    And the course of a lifetime runs
    Over and over again

    It goes on, but you get the gist:)

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  12. ...... no words.... just a full heart from another lovely post

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  13. that is an amazing story....wow! i am making a mental note of this...$40 never ment so much♥

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  14. i love how beautifully those two videos show your journey together, how far you've all come in such a short time.

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  15. Wow. I do not like "Gotcha" day either. We won't do it like that.

    I have much of your blog to catch up on. Wishing you, Steven and your beautiful brood a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday...

    Cindy

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  16. I love that idea. I have made a mental note to myself. I can imagine how the music and voices she heard from that machine anchored her. She could do it over and over again of her own accord. It's so full of thought to do that, Julie. I love knowing these kinds of things.

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  17. I read your post with great interest. Although my family will be adopting a younger child, it is so valuable to hear about how the children adjust in the first few days, weeks.

    It appears to me that you are all so lucky to have each other. They are beautiful.

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  18. brilliant.

    we are anti-gotcha day in brooklyn. i do not like how gotcha negates so much loss and trauma...

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  19. you are such good parents. you are SUCH a good mama.

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  20. This is really beautiful, Julie! Who would ever think ... a metal voice recorder...

    I loved this!

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  21. Thank you for affirming my somewhat obsessive search the past few weeks. Our little guy is just 3 months and I felt so strongly that he should hear our voices as well as see our faces in photos. My family thought the voice was a little overkill for a baby. But our voices will arrive in his care package next week. Little Meazi is a deep deep soul. Seems like you were all specifically made for one another.

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  22. so you're sending this to Charlotte (aka habeshahouse/villa kulla) for the book, right? Because just when I think that adoption and the issues surrounding it couldn't be more moving, it is...

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  23. Sunita had no interest in soft fuzzies. None. They had never been introduced. For her "lovey" a little light up and sound making toy. She didn't put it down, not for sleeping or eating.

    And as far as gotcha day - we didn't celebrate this year and probably never will. Although not as traumatic for us as I'm sure it was for you and yours, it just doesn't fit us. I'll probably try to record a little something each year on that day because it is momentous, but not necessarily celebratory.

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  24. I am way behind on your blog and just reading this now. Wow. This post is heart breaking and beautiful a the same time. I also LOVE this idea and since we just upped our age range I expect we will be bringing two terrified kiddos home soon. Do you happen to have a recommendation on what tape recorder to get? The toddler ones all seem to get bad reviews! Any advice greatly appreciated...

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