Monday, February 15, 2010

Thoughts at Six Months Home...

We have been home from Ethiopia for six months. In many ways it feels like it has been six years, and in many ways it feels like it has been six days. I can honestly say that the best piece of adoption advice that I ever read (and I can’t remember where I read it) was:

Don’t evaluate anything in your new family for at least six months.

That and…

Sleep when they sleep.

Two very important pieces of advice.

The past six months have been intense. The whole experience, from the trip until now, has been ‘ier’ or ‘er’. Everything was just more than I imagined it would be, ‘heavier’ ‘happier’ ‘sadder’… you get the idea.

When you reach a certain age, you think that you have absolutely experienced every single emotion that exists. If you are a melancholy, depressive type, you might think that you have known the very deepest sorrow. You are sure that you understand grief and loss. If you are a person who has reached a certain age, you are sure that you have experienced happiness. Moments of joy may seem few in comparison, but you are sure that you have felt them, and that you fully understand what joy feels like. Having children changes all of that. I realize now that I really had no idea. I didn’t know anything about sadness. I didn’t know fully what joy feels like. I do now.

Being a Mother

I have always been a person who was a little bit good at a few things, but not really excellent at one thing. I think that I thought that ‘being a mother’ would be the thing that I would succeed at, that maybe I would be an excellent mother. Well, it isn’t, and I am not. I am not as good at this as I thought I would be. I fail repeatedly. It is much harder than I thought it would be. I am disappointed in myself, but realize I can improve. I will improve.


Don’t evaluate anything in your new family for at least six months.

If we hadn’t followed this advice, I think that Steven and I would have separated. I don’t say that lightly. That would have been something huh? Get everything that you always wanted, after ten years of trying, and then fall apart. Those first few months were extremely hard on my marriage. I now see that this has been a huge transition period for all of us. As Steven is now most likely banging his head on his desk at work while reading this, let me just say that I think it might be helpful for other newly formed families to realize that it might not be a romantic, loving, happy-ending period in your marriage. It might be challenging-ier. You might be frustrated with each other. You might have different ideas of how things should go.

One thing that we have agreed on though is Attachment parenting. Our kids needed, and still need, this kind of baby-wearing, co-sleeping, attention. It works for them. They feel more secure everyday. They trust us. Meazi and Melese have now been with us longer than they were in care.


I believe that attachment is something that you always deal with as an adoptive parent. Your kids aren’t all of the sudden ‘attached” to you. There will be an ebb and flow. As they change developmentally, their attachment will change too.

It took Melese nearly four months to make eye contact with us when we were giving him a bottle. I had read something that said, “Take the bottle away until he looks at you, then continue feeding him.” This seemed wrong to me. I didn’t want to force him to look at me. He needed time, so we gave it to him. Now he stares at us with those big, beautiful browns, and it was definitely worth waiting for. We still haven't left Melese with anyone. He cries if he can't see one of us. People say, "Oh good, he is attached to you," but he isn't. He is not secure in his attachment. If he were, he would know that we will return, and he wouldn't cry. I guess we would have to leave him for him to figure this out. I am not ready to leave him with anyone. I don't think he is ready either. So, yeah, not securely attached.

Meazi would have attached to a lamppost in Ethiopia. She wanted attention. She wanted love. She had experienced great trauma and loss. She had also fully developed what I call an orphanage persona (including a name for herself). When we first came home I read Amanda’s blog and thought that if Meazi had been in care as long, and had been as old as Samry, we would have been dealing with the exact same issues. Thank you Amanda for being so honest about what it was like for you. Meazi’s alter ego, which served her well at the orphanage (she got to wear the red sparkly shoes and the pink shirt) quickly faded as she figured out that she no longer had to compete with anyone (except maybe Melese) for attention, that all of the clothing in the closet belonged to her, and that there would always be enough to eat. You can tell when Meazi is feeling insecure now, she will crinkle her nose the way she did in Addis, and her voice gets weaker and higher. I still think she has a bit of ‘indiscriminate attachment’ lingering, but it is much, much better. She is very gregarious and friendly so it is a delicate balance, I don’t want to discourage her effusiveness, but I don’t want her kissing the UPS man either.


(Meazi waiting to see the pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cedar's Sinai).

I wonder if other adoptive moms do this. I wonder if you ever say to yourselves, “Well yes, it is a better life for them here in America.” If you are like me, you may feel conflicted about taking your children from their birth country. You may feel that their losses are enormous. There have been three times where I felt like M&m were better off here. The first time was our first week home when Meazi’s pediatrician looked at me and said, “Yes, it looks like she still has her clitoris.” Meazi, unlike thousands of girls in rural Ethiopia, was not a victim of FGM. I breathed a sigh of relief at that moment. Life is hard enough as it is with a clitoris. I am making a joke here, but really it was something I was worried about, and it is something that should never happen to anyone, anywhere.

The second ‘better off here’ moment was the week before Christmas. That same pediatrician called me and said that after four months of treatment, Meazi was finally free of the six different parasites that had been ravaging her little body. Merry Christmas.

The third moment happened recently at the LACMA.Walking through the galleries I thought... Meazi and Melese will see things. They will travel. They will have opportunities. They will see art, maybe even play an instrument. They will go to school. They will go to college.

So, three moments in six months. Not sure these balance out the other moments, moments like Meazi asking to see someone in Ethiopia, or Melese kissing a certain picture we have, but we continue to try and navigate our way through this sea of joy and sorrow.


The kids had met my parents. Meazi calls our room out back the “Nana Bet’ because on the day we came to America together, Nana picked us up and was living in her Nana house out back. They love their Nana and Papa. (In these past six months I have also been reminded just how incredible my own parents were/are. Nothing like instant parenting to make you appreciate your own parents).

Most of our relatives were only here for three days. The kids loved their Aunt Kate, and their Uncle Mark, and Kate's boyfriend Tarek. It has to be weird though right? "These people are now your aunts and uncles." After the first two nights of festivities (and truthfully this was a really fun, beautiful, longed for time, and the kids did enjoy it) Meazi said, “Mommy, tonight just you, and me, and daddy, and Melese.” I said, “Is it too much Meazi?” She said,”Yes, too much, too much hugging mommy." Uncle Mark, who had planned to stay for two weeks, noticed that we needed some time alone. He cut his trip short and returned to NYC. It took our kids exactly three weeks to recover from the holidays. It was too much. The change in, or lack of, structure (school was out too) really set us back. Both kids regressed, Meazi’s nose got crinkly, and they both needed carriers and bottles. It was a textbook regression. We regrouped, and holed up, and repaired, and reminded them who we were. Structure and Nurture, I try to remember Rebekah’s advice at times like those. I also stumbled upon this advice.

A Pound a Month or Don’t eat every time they eat unless you are trying to gain weight.

These kids eat a lot. Meazi has gained a pound every month, as have I. I realize that I did not have very regular eating habits before the kids came home. Steven eats a lot of meals at work, and I am a grazer. I like to snack and drink coffee. Sitting down to three meals a day plus snacks causes me some anxiety (and not just because I gave Melese a cup of sweet potatoes that had gone bad). I wish that I had spent less time blathering about waiting and more time learning to cook healthy delicious meals for my family. Every time I defrost a processed foodstuff from Trader Joe’s I think, Carrie would never give her girls this. Another area of parenting that I need to work on.

Our M& m’s
Steven, who really should take over the writing of this blog, told me the other day that he believes that these kids really are like M&m’s. They have a tough exterior shell, but underneath they are soft. The shell is very, very thin. This describes them perfectly.

They are also sweet and shiny like an M&m. (Dear the makers of M&m’s, right now would be an excellent time for you to make me an offer I can’t refuse. Please sponsor my blog so that I can put the monies into a violin lesson fund, or a “Travel to the Statue of Liberty” fund. Thank you).

Before we met our kiddos we noticed that all of the Ethiopian children we knew were tough, very tough. They would get knocked down, and get right up again. That is why we now walk around the house with our fake announcer voice saying to each other, “Today on The World’s Most Sensitive Ethiopian, Meazi’s eyebrow gets brushed by a shirt sleeve," Or Today on The World’s Most Sensitive Ethiopian, Melese melts down because mom needs to pee." These kids are super sensitive.


Melese turned one on January 1st. I know, I know, sounds like a made up birthday huh? I don’t care. Also, we were going to call him Mel because Melese sounds like Melissa. Well, I just can’t. He is Melese. He knows his name; he has known it since we met him. He is Melese or Meles. People will continue to think that we have two girls I guess. Melese continues to be the ‘Bringer of Joy’. He is one cuddly, huggy baby, and Oh. Those. Eyes. He has eight teeth. He walks. He has started to utter words; dog, daddy, mamma, guitar, and this and that (which my friend Heather reminded me that maybe I am not always saying the name of the thing that he is pointing at and instead saying ‘this’ or ‘that’. Mother fail again). Melese loves the dogs. The dogs are very patient with him. Melese rips off all childproofing gadgets in mere seconds. He is like King Kong tearing through the joint, putting socket protectors in his mouth and turning on all of the gas burners.

He is obsessed with the vacuum cleaner and cries his eyes out when I put it away in the closet. He has given us stomach raspberries since the first month. Where does a baby learn to give a raspberry? He is crazy cute. He loves the color yellow, his dad’s guitar, and above all else, his sister Meazi. She is his touchstone and as Claudia pointed out in a comment that really stopped me in my tracks, “ It will be such a gift for her to tell Melese their story."

Steven and I continue to agree on one thing, waiting for siblings was the best decision we made.

Watching these two interact may be the most rewarding part of the whole experience. I am so relieved that they have each other.


You’ve seen a bit of what Meazi is like. She amazes me. She is stubborn, or as her Nana puts it ‘determined’. She is sensitive. She is affectionate. Her Pre-k teacher told us that in thirty years of teaching she has never seen a child pick up language the way that Meazi has. Meazi remembers everything. Last week she reminded me about a disposable sippy cup we gave her in Ethiopia. She told me this elaborate story of how she brought it to the school in Ethiopia, how they wouldn’t refill it with water for her, how she brought it back that afternoon to the care center, about how the nannies kept it in the kitchen for her , and then gave it back to her the next day. We talk about Ethiopia a lot. We showed her her video lifebook when we got home, and she asks to see it every few weeks. We talk about adoption. There are a lot of questions.

My father visited us again in January. One morning, over breakfast, Meazi told her Papa the story of Ruby Bridges. It went on for some time. In her story were references to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. My father and I just looked at each other in shock. Did I mention that she was smart?

Don’t evaluate anything in your new family for at least six months.

At six months the laundry continues to pile up in the unused crib, the dogs have been demoted to (gasp) dog status, there is more defrosting than there is harvesting, and there is more pizza than there are vegetables.

I wanted these children so much, and now I want so much for these children. I want to give them everything. I want them to be happy, and safe. How on earth will I keep them safe?

At six months we are a family. M& m’s story has become our story too. We are a family with two countries. We are Habesha. We are American. We are stubborn, (I mean determined), and we are sensitive. We love each other. We don’t always agree. We grieve and we heal. We laugh and we cry. We dance and we sing. We worry, and we let go.

There is sorrow and there is joy.

At six months...

We move forward.


  1. I think this might be one of the most beneficial posts that PAPs could ever read. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I don't think I'm capable of putting into words my feelings for you and your family. It's so..... good and even though on the surface, it may seem complicated, also, so simple.

    Your (YOUR) children.

    Also, I know you are a fabulous mom There is no perfect mother - even though all children deserve one, we never get one and we never get to be one. But you are teaching them unconditional love and honesty and how to be who they are. They are thriving and will continue to.

    I learn how to be a better mom whenever you have the time to write.

    I think eating meals with kids is really important - I hate how many times I've had mac n cheese lately. Turns out I've finally outgrown my childhood favorite. And although some meals are particularly annoying, I feel a lot of sharing and parenting gets done. And it feels somehow respectful toward my kids when I sit down with them. Except when Matthew holds food in his mouth. For an hour. Without chewing. That is one tenacious toddler. I'm calling him Tenacious MZ. (which is so much better than MZ Hammer, don't you think?)

    It was great to hear your voice the other day (the other month or whenever it was).

  3. This post is absolutely beautiful. There's so much in it that I could respond to. So many things that had me nodding my head in agreement. So many thoughts that resonated deeply within me.

    I wanted to speak to the parenting thing. I, too, thought I'd be a great mom. I am not. I have no way of knowing how things might be different if my mom were still around, but I do know that the loss of her has impacted me so deeply that I am just now (three and a half years later) coming out of the intense depression that her death brought on. Honestly, for the first several years, I didn't even realize it was as bad as it was because I was working so hard just to tread water.

    Many, many times I have felt guilty for bringing these children across an ocean only to have an extremely imperfect mother like me. But I love them. And we're muddling through.

    I love hearing you talk about your children. You're so sensitive to their needs and different personalities. That, to me, is the mark of a great mother.

    Congratulations on 6 months, and here's to forever more.

  4. Amazing stories...thank you so much for sharing the REAL deal. We are meeting our daughter THIS WEEK!!!! I love your 6 month advice...I'll try to stick to it. :)

  5. One for the ages. Loved reading it, Julie. That of your family is a beautiful story, one that makes you suck in your breath so hard and exhale in vibrant emotion.

    Bravisimo. Permasmile here.

    For your family I have joy.

    (BTW, can you just keep blogging for some of us who can't seem to?)


  6. It's hard to believe its been six months already. So much in your post rang true for us as well. The kids look great. Sending hugs!

  7. That was absolutely beautiful. Congratulations on 6 months. Congrats in advance on 60 years!!!!! God Bless Your Family. Continue to NOT evaluate them and allow them to evaluate you :) Beautiful post!

  8. What a fantastic post. Congratulations on 6 months home, a milestone worth celebrating to be sure.

  9. wow Julie, I've missed you. your writing. you are doing great. some days are about surrvival, you'll have plenty of time to get organic or harvest your own vegtables or raise chickens or whatever- right now you are doing just what you need to do. give yourself a break.

  10. what a great update!! thanks for sharing! I was wondering how old Melese is? I have been referred a 2 1/2 year old boy and was wondering if you could give me any information for that age range?! my email address is

    Great Update and AWESOME pictures!

  11. Quite possibly the best post ever. Like reading my own experience written by someone so much less whiny and so much more articulate.

    "I wanted these children so much, and now I want so much for these children." Oh, Julie! I love you!


  12. Beautifully written Julie! I can relate to much of what you have experienced. Steve and I have decided that these may have been the toughest 6 months of our lives so far. Raising kids is hard work!! But as difficult times have been, we wouldn't want life any different. We have grown and learned so much. Our lives are full! Happy 6 months home to you too!

  13. Oh, wow. Thank you so much for sharing all of these thoughts, Julie. I learn so much from honest mamas like you. I love the advice to evaluate after six months - that makes sense but it is also probably difficult as you're struggling through.

  14. What an amazing post...thanks for sharing your experience.

  15. Thank you so much for the update. You know how it is during all the waiting and lingering on each word about the days that will come. Thank you for always having links to other resources b/c trust me I am taking notes ;) But, as a mom to 3, I have to tell you that we all suck at the mom thing sometimes. Yes, mine are bio and adopted kids come complete with a whole new book of needs... but each of my 3 bio kids came with a book of their own- and NO instructions... lol- trust me I've looked. So, when your making frozen Trader Joe's or you give the baby bad sweet potatoes know that you are not alone. And, kids are forgiving bc we need them to be ;) You are a fantastic mom!!!! Happy 6 Months Home!!!

  16. Beautiful, perfect, TRUE words.
    Beautiful family!

  17. As always, I have to thank you for sharing so much of your story as you travel this road ahead of me. Don't evaluate your new family for six months, got it!

  18. What a beautiful story continuing to unfold every day...mother fail? Hardly. You ARE giving them everything they need. It is unrealistic that everything can always be "textbook" perfect (home grown, organic, unfroze, fresh meals...all patience all the time, knowing exactly the right thing to say at every moment, etc. etc.), but you and Steven ARE perfect for M& the analogy to m&ms.

    In terms of Melese, I am definitely not an attachment expert, but I think he IS attached to you. It seems very normal for him to want you or Steven around. When G was his age, she wanted me, Allen or Grace...we still haven't left her with anyone other than the 3 of us....for her, Grace was another parent since she knew her since 3 months old. I remember when we couldn't leave the room if my Mom or other family member visited. Now, that isn't a problem and we probably COULD leave her, but we don't.

    Happy 6 month-versary. You survived and survived VERY well. I would say that you are all thriving!

  19. This is by far the most incredible post I've read about being home. So honest! Thanks for sharing. It's nice to know that one's not alone because the first few months are definitely every superlative in the book.

  20. Oh Julie. What a touching tribute to the making of your family. The triumphs and the toughs. I am immensely lucky to be crying in my coffee this morning in a knowing kind of way.

    Happy half. Happy more. Happy ever.

  21. What a beautiful post and so uplifting for me. We just accepted a referral and I have more anxiety now than ever about whether I'll be a "good enough" mom...I will heed your advice and read this entry often in the months after we bring our little "E" home. Thank you for your honesty and sensitivity to all of us on the journey of parenting.

  22. Sometimes I think the greatest gift a child can receive is the gift of being known. Deeply known. If this is true, then it seems you may already be the exceptional mother you aspired to be.

  23. Beautiful Julie. I have so many things I want to say, but not the words.

    Judah (who I believe took 1 year to attach) just looked at your pictures and said, "I want to go to that place, mama."
    It is a beautiful journey.

  24. This post is so good, so much to process! You had me crying out of joy and sadness - for you and for me! I had never heard the advice of not evaluating your family for at least 6 months. I needed to hear it, though, because I do it every day and it is not helpful to me or my family. Just last night, I lay awake doing so and it just made me feel like a bad mother. Thanks also for the link to the Center for Adoption Medicine. WILL be doing some reading there!!

    "ier" and "er" are exactly right! Cannot be stressed enough!

    I loved learning more about your beautiful children and about you. The four months extra of experience that you have give me so much to glean from (unbelievable, right? - it seems like so much more).

    You sound/look like you are doing a lot of good things, Julie. I have to remember that there is so much that I do that I don't even take into account, that if I measure myself only by what I am bad at, I will never measure up. You have so much insight and sensitivity around adoption and have given your kids so much. Thanks for reminding me to pay more attention to that.

    So much more I want to say, but as baby sleeps, A and Samba are calling me for some outdoor time.



  25. That is an amazing post! So thoughtful and thought provoking. You guys are the most incredibly loving, learning and determined family I have met!

  26. Favorite. Post. Ever. Beautiful reflections.

  27. I am speechless.

    I am so thankful for your honesty.

    My heart is warmed by your story and broken by your children's story.

    I want to say a very sincere "thank you" to you for sharing your journey in such a real way. Your ability to be so vulnerable online paves the way for those of us who will follow in your footsteps. I learn so much from you. I don't know how to give this comment the "voice" that I want it to have- but please know that I am encouraged by you, in awe of you, learning from you, and above all- thankful for you.

  28. You are such a gifted writer, Julie. I love your posts so much.

  29. Oh Julie, I love you so. You ARE a good mother. I wish my saying so convinced you of it but I know it won't. Just know I think it. Know I look to you as an inspiration and source of wisdom. Know that so many others do too.

    This may be my favorite post of yours ever.

  30. Oh Julie, thank you so much for sharing this. All of this. It does wonders for me when I hear another mother who I admire and who I think really has her sh*t together as a mother, says she fails. It helps me feel so much better about my motherself. And I still haven't heard you mention pizza roll or chicken nugget yet.

    And the marriage part... I swear, we never seemed to bicker or disagree much until M came home. Finally after almost two years, we've eased up. And to think we're going to be all up in each other's faces again in a matter of months when we bring E home.

    I wish I could nominate this post for an award. Thank you for being here for the blog world, Julie and family.

  31. I have no words for such an amazing post. Thank you for sharing.

  32. your best writing ever, yet...
    yes, i'm evaluating
    those are my feelings

    so true about marriage and new parenthood
    after all every other disagreement before was not about the most important people in your lives...

    quinn cried when we left until he was 6 years old. some kids are like that. some not. you are right to go with your instincts, it's almost always the right way to go...

    lastly, it matters less what is on the table than the fact that you are sitting down and having a meal together...we've had wonderful moments over pop tarts...

  33. Beautiful post, favorite since your amazing post @ 12 months of waiting. I have missed your voice & your wisdom.

    We do the best we can for our kids. Some days are better than others. Some days I feel like a vehicle for food and play for Munta, other days I see his eyes light up when he looks at me, and I know love is starting to blossom.

    We also are not blank slates as moms. We come to this with our own likes, dislikes, joys & sadness. I have been feeling guilty lately about my own grief re. my brother's illness and its impact on Munta's life, but what can I do? It's real.

    I KNOW you are a good mom. You are thoughtful and engaged and present and loving and so much more. We cannot be all things. You give them so much that they NEED. Remember to give yourself credit for what you do well too.

    You & Steven are lucky and M&m are lucky too. I know this street goes both ways.

    Thank you for this post.

  34. What an amazing post Julie. I am so glad that you touched on how hard children are on a marriage. I have told people that same thing over and over and they look at me like I have a second head.Someone had told me before my first that I would love my husband more after we had children..ha! We did eventually love each other more but it took a few months to figure out how to parent and love each other at the same time.
    Thank you for sharing and happy happy 6 months home!

  35. What a beautiful description of the way a family unfolds! Thank you for sharing your family's story. Your perspective on that first six month period beautifully and truthfully told.

  36. What a beautiful description of the way a family unfolds! Thank you for sharing your family's story. Your perspective on that first six month period beautifully and truthfully told.

  37. I love all of your blogs posts - but I LOVE this post in particular. Thank you for being transparent. For sharing your experiences so that others can even have an idea of what to expect. Parenting isn't always easy - but it is always worth it.

  38. Beautiful, amazing, full of insights and hope for those of us who are a few months behind you in being home...and what everyone else said too!

  39. Sharing your (very personal) experiences are so beneficial for so many of us. Thank you!
    p.s. You are a beautiful mother :)

  40. Thank you Julie, what a lovely post. A few thoughts as a parent of bio kids, waiting waiting for her Habesha ones: it is so hard to know the "why" behind the tears from babies and children.

    I wanted to reassure you that at least for us meltdowns over mom having to pee, or God forbid get dressed or shower, happen in houses where kids are securely attached.

    18 months of screams, I mean frightening, horrifying, thrashing and screaming during diaper changes would have assured me that my child had been a victim of some terrible terrible abuse. Except I gave birth to my son, and I know that he has been safe. If I had adopted him, I would be seeing therapists over these diaper changes. But he's just a baby. Being kind of a sensitive punk.

    I guess what I am saying is, I don't know how to separate what is "adoption" or "grief" behavior, because I've seen fear, separation issues, horrible fits and testing that look and feel an awful lot like pain, when it was just my kids not able to express frustration except by doing what kids do: crying and pushing limits.

    I think you are a wonderful mother. I honor the amazing things you are doing.

    You are sorting through the pain and grief, not knowing what is what. If it's kids learning to be a family with you, dealing with sorrow and issues, or if the kids are just being kids.

    I know I will be there some day, hope I can do as well as you guys are doing.

    6 months. wow.

  41. Your writing is moving and insightful, as always. I empathize with not being the mother you imagined you would be. But it sounds like six months in you’re well on your way. Like attachment, motherhood for most of us is a lifelong process of becoming.

  42. "Being a Mother

    I have always been a person who was a little bit good at a few things, but not really excellent at one thing. I think that I thought that ‘being a mother’ would be the thing that I would succeed at, that maybe I would be an excellent mother. Well, it isn’t, and I am not. I am not as good at this as I thought I would be. I fail repeatedly. It is much harder than I thought it would be. I am disappointed in myself, but realize I can improve. I will improve."
    I could have written this. Thank you for putting so many things of the things I've been feeling into words. I bought this book about a year ago called, Ii was a really good mom before I had kids". I bought for the title I though it was funny (ironic) and because it totally summed up how I was feeling at the time. I do think time helps/heals. It been two years and although I still struggle with so many things about adoption, parenting, and attachment, I think some things get easier, the confidence in knowing that you ARE a family and you ARE their mom. The relationship thing is hard. We have to work at it now and we never did before. When you're ready, find a great sitter even if it's just for an hour. It helps. Thanks for sharing! K

  43. Thank you for everything you have taught me.

  44. If M&M's won't sponsor you SOMEONE SHOULD!!! Your writing is amazingER, beautifulER, truthfulER, and lovelyER then ever before.
    Siblings, twins CHILDREN are worth the wait!! And even worth feeling like you might separate.... but of course you come out the other end BETTER then before!

  45. Happy 6 Months!
    It sounds to me like your family is right on track. There may be issues, but they will right themselves with time. What's most important is the love you all share. That is apparent in your words and your pictures. Keep doing what you're doing, because you are doing it right.

    And Julie, thank you for writing this post so honestly and for sharing it with us. As I prepare to start my own parenting journey, I am always grateful to hear from someone who is keeping it real, as the kids say.

  46. Wow. I think I will read and re-read and read and re-read this post MANY times over. Thank you for your perception and awareness and teachings. They are invaluable. You ARE amazing.

  47. Thanks for the advice on evaluating at 6 months. Thanks also for recommending siblings (which we are hoping for). Thanks for your honesty about the transition process (now I'm really scared about the marriage stuff), and the holidays. I'm reading Attaching in Adoption right now which states exactly what you have described with Melese. I believe it says 6-18 months for a secure attachment, when he KNOWS you are coming back and you'll be able to pee and have him stay with someone else. It is SO great that you have the option to spend every moment with him so that the process will not be inhibited for him. I think I know which doctor you are referring to at Cedars and I'd like to talk to you about her if you can recommend.

  48. Amazing story. Amazing Honesty. Thank you so much for sharing!

  49. I carried these words around with me all day long, Julie, and felt the depth of this ocean of love and loss and longing all wrapped up in two little beautiful brown bodies and their lovely mommy and daddy..
    I found myself counting months on my fingers - just when was LeLe's 6month home? And then I visited back in time and pictures and memories.
    I remember. I'm lucky to remember. I'm lucky to feel, too, these thoughts you write so beautifully. Thank you for such a beautiful reflection of why we practice intentional parenting - and how we are ALL doing this day by day - with some days better than others.
    Thank you for sharing your gift of writing - and speaking so much of a shared experience.

    (shout out to bek - really? food in his mouth for an hour???)

  50. Thanks for posting all of this!! Love your keeps getting better and better! Thanks for telling it! :-)

  51. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And even though Steven may have been banging his head on his desk because you were so open and honest I really appreciate and applaud you for your honesty. I remember how hard it was on our marriage each time we had a baby and it is a good reminder that it will be hard again. I will hold on to the, "Wait 6 months to evaluate," I can already tell that those 4 words and a number will help remind me to hold on :)
    Hugs to you and the fam!!

  52. beautiful and honest.. thank you for sharing with us.
    you are a beautiful family

  53. This is the best post I ever read.Truly your blog should be a must read for all families. Thank you for your post.

  54. Julie,

    This has already helped me and my little one is not home, not nearly. But it helps me, nonetheless. Isn't it strange how children bring everything to the surface for the parents?

    You sound peaceful regardless of the mother fails (which sounds harsh, it seems more like the human being-ness of mothering or mother mis-steps) or the Trader Joe's. I wish I didn't make mistakes in my mothering (or my relationship with my husband), but I am also glad I do not delude myself in some weird idea of perfection. On the continuum I'm just not anywhere near the perfect end at all.

    Thank god they have each other. It makes me teary with joy to know that they will have each other all their lives.

  55. Julie, I've been a lurker here for some time, and appreciate so much your honesty and sharing. The first post of yours I found ages ago was on your crazy thoughts as you waited, particularly regarding ethics. I still have those same concerns and crazy thoughts, even as we wait to go meet our daughter in Ethiopia, who is 3 1/2. It helps tremendously to see your beautiful family. Thanks!

  56. Thank you, Thank you - for sharing so beautifully.

  57. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks this post is incredible. I assume you'll file it in your "Posts Some Folks Liked" column. :)

    I too am one of those women who thought that motherhood would be the one thing at which I excel. Turns out not to be the case. I am really good (I think) at loving my son - I just hope that's enough.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on the six-month mark. Such honest, beautiful, wise and compelling words.


  58. Bravo, bravo, bravo! There is so much I want to say, but nothing worthy of saying in response to this incredible post.

    Oh, except for BRAVO!!

  59. Thank you for the vulnerability it took to write this amazing post. Loved reading every word.

  60. For a mom who is disappointed in herself, you are certainly in tune with your children's needs and personalities. I'd say, "good job"!

  61. This is such an incredible post...thanks for being so open and candid. This will help many many AP's....beautifully written.

  62. Thank you. What great thoughts! We are waiting for travel dates to go pick up our son in Ethiopia. Encouraging words. Thank you.

  63. I love your writing. It has helped me realize I'm not the only one in this wonderful(read: scary) journey. Thank you for being so honest. I made my husband read this too because he thinks that everything will be hunky dory when we travel to Ethiopia to bring our daughter home in 10 days!!!! And it will be. In time.

  64. Thank you for your honesty and your eloquence. I agree that it's so incredible helpful to me as a PAP; even if secretly all I want to read about is that you waited and were in anguish and made it through. It's good for me to think beyond that.

    Ironically, I thought I'd be a crap mom and I think I'm doing a great job, so I think it's all about where you feel you've set the bar, going into it. My guess is: we're even. We're all even.

  65. Julie,

    WHEN are you going to stop making me cry??

  66. Oh, Julie, I am sitting here crying. I don't really know why this post is making me cry so much. Maybe because I identify so strongly with the range of emotions you've expressed. You did such a wonderful job of saying it all. Congratulations to you and to your incredibly beautiful, smart, sensitive family.

  67. Hi there -
    I"m new to your blog, but wanted to say thank you for this terrific post. My husband and I are waiting for a referral of siblings from Ethiopia, and there's so much in your post that is helpful to read.


    Ruth Branson

  68. I love this post. I forwarded this to some friends who just brought home a little boy. I can't even tell you how helpful this information is.

  69. I have read this over and over...getting so nervous for my journey in 2 helped to read this. Thank you Julie!

  70. Thank you... that's all I have (and now I need to go and hug my husband). A

  71. Oh Julie, I'm so honored to read you and know you. Your family. and your story of family, is a thing of great bravery and beauty.

  72. Ah....yup. Perfect. only gets more. And better.

  73. I just found your blog and I am very glad that I did.

    This post especially will help me in the months ahead.

    Thank you for your brilliance and candor.

  74. Lovely post. Thank you putting into words what I do not always like to put out in public and don't have the energy to do. This is such hard work! You are doing a great job even when you are stuggling.

  75. we all have a different experience and we all have the same experience. thanks for this post.

  76. your writing is so real and honest- thank you-
    this made me cry- i share in your feelings- i fel both profound joy and sadness for our children- all they have lost, and learned, and all that is to come-

  77. Beautiful honesty. We have been home with our boy-girl siblings from Ethiopia for almost seven months and it has been tough. It has challenged our marriage, challenged our sanity, and certainly challenged our notion of what we thought this would be like. We are still dealing with attachment issues, parasites, scalp fungus, and grief but I'm starting to believe that we will come out the other side.

    I couldn't agree more about the siblings. I'm so glad our children have each other and I do think it has helped them with the transition to this completely new life they now have.

    I could relate to so much about what you wrote. Thank you.

  78. Wonderful post. We just returned home 2 month ago, and I thought we were the only ones with these mixed feelings and emotions. It is so refreshing to see others hat are in "the same boat". Thanks for this post!

  79. I never comment on any blog, but came across this post and had tears in my eyes (as did my husband, but that's our secret :). We have just started the process of adoption from India and it was great to read such an open and honest post about the process. I am going to remember a lot of what you said! I wish I will be half as perceptive (and good) mother as you will be. As a relative once told me, you will NOT be a perfect mom and you will make mistakes - just forgive yourself for them even before you have the child. Thank you So much for the post and the honesty!

  80. We are approaching 6 months... thought I'd read this again:)

  81. Funny, I commented last a year ago. I had a hit from this post on my blog today and sat down and read the whole thing again, for like the 10th time. And again it brought tears. Here we are, our full families:) It's just kind of unbelievable, isn't it?