Mar 11, 2010

Their Story Unfolds--reflections and pictures



Do you notice a difference? For me it's harder to see, but everyone tells me how different they look. How MayMay looks "thinner." How Bella is gorgeous and growing.

They are getting so big so fast. I look at those pics of MayMay and I remember the girl who seemed to move and cling like a toddler, who had the squat body and big tummy but those huge, liquid eyes that you just couldn't get away from. Her legs have gotten long, so fast, and muscled. She almost looks like she could be the age she really is (almost six) now. I was looking at my kids the other day, all tangled in a pile playing some game, and was suddenly struck by how beautiful they all were... gorgeous arms and legs, gorgeous faces, healthy bodies. I'm so grateful and it's like watching flowers bloom, seeing these two race from pant-size to pant-size... Bella's pants that she came home in now belong to Jaws (we do have to cuff them a bit) and she can BARELY fit into size five talls now. She and Loli are now the same size... she has caught up with a vengeance. And her top teeth are growing in.

I get little bits, here and there, about my adopted kids and the life they had before they came to America. Usually it's completely random when they start talking about it (for real, not making up imaginary things about Ethiopia being full of unicorns and candy and sparkly bedspreads.)

Today I got a big chunk of past that I didn't have before. I cherish every piece I get, because it brings me more into the world they've lived in. They're my kids. But they're also kids who had a life I knew nothing about.

Today MayMay told me that a little girl at Toukoul taught her some orphanage behaviors that we're currently trying to eradicate (nothing too troubling... just some bad habits.) She told me about this girl and how she was "nice, but bad sometimes," and how she hit sometimes. We talked from there about how MayMay slept on the bottom bunk at Toukoul and Bella on the top.

One thing I kind of missed before... I thought that when we visited they must be washing the linens for the bunkbeds. And then I got a roll of film back that I developed... I sent a disposable camera to Ethiopia before we came to pick them up, and asked the nannies to take some pictures. THere were a couple of pics of the kids sleeping in the bunks, and no. They don't have sheets, pillows or blankets... they all sleep on the bare mattresses. When you think about it, that's not all that shocking; a mattress at all is a huge luxury, and the climate is pretty moderate. But... we just have such a different set of assumptions about what is tolerable, over here.

Then Bella got enthusiastic and told about how her grandma came once to visit the orphanage, and brought "that cute baby" with her. I asked further and found out we were talking about their younger sister, Konjit, who still lives with Grandma in Ethiopia. She talked about how when we came to get them, "I was playing and playing outside and the lady told me to come down and see you and you were there." MayMay told a story then about how Bella got out of bed at Toukoul once in the middle of the night and MayMay "looked and looked and couldn't find Bellarina and then saw her playing with that little car that doesn't go by itself."

Lol. That sure sounds like Bella... she's pretty dang independent. Somtimes it gets her in some trouble.

(one of Bella's silly faces... always gets Loli to bust a gasket)

My girls are so cute. By the way.

And that lead to a discussion about where they lived in Ethiopia before Toukoul (the orphanage.) Bella told me a cute story. She said her mama sent her to school, and she wore a backpack and walked, but MayMay didn't go. She said one time her mama said she coudln't go see her dad, who worked in a store, but she put on her backpack and went anyway. Her mama found her and said she couldn't have a treat from the store.

I don't know if Mama is Grandma (I'm thinking it is) and Dad is Grandpa... it's mixed up but any piece of information is golden for me.

And then we got out the Coffee table book that sits on our piano, of Ethiopia. We went through all the pages and commented. I asked if her house looked like this, or like this... they had cows like this or sheep like this, if they grew vegetables like this. Bella said their house was like this:

And that this looks like her church:

She told me that they went to church in a white dress with a white hat. That's traditional Ethiopian Orthodox religous clothing... the white dress and head covering. We were looking at some of the religious paintings in churches, and Bella said, "That's Mary," pointing at a depiction of Mary and Jesus in the Ethiopian style of paintings that hang in churches. And she told me that the word for Jesus in Ethiopia is "Eskabeer." (? anyone who is reading this post who knows about this should comment and give me more info, because this is so interesting to me.)

We're planning on getting someone to go out to where they're from, which is Bale Robe in Goba province. It's high in the mountains, colder than most other places in Ethiopia, and mostly a rural area with farmers. With a little bit from our tax return this year we're going to get someone to hopefully take some pictures and interview the grandma if she's still living. This is something that we'll have to do carefully because it's kind of discouraged, though they can't do much about it if you take care of these things after the adoption is finalized. We just can't have any contact with the family, is the thing... it's now against the law. We can't give any gifts of communicate with them directly because then people could be accused of child trafficking.

But as we were looking through this coffee table book, the girls kept asking if their grandma was in it, and I kept having to say no. So I think it's about the right time to try to get some pictures, if we can... that they can look at if they want to. And maybe I get some more wonderful glimpses as well, into my childrens' past.


Hannah said...

When Meaza was at my house on Wednesday, she told me that she jumped over her "brown mama in Ethiopia." I asked her if her mom was standing up tall or laying down, and she said laying down. I was planning to tell you that, and it made me wonder if they were starting to open up more about their lives before. Such sweet girls. Meaza is a TALKER! LOL!

Natalie | The Bobby Pin said...

This is an absolutely beautiful story! I stopped by from FMH - and I will be following your blog!

Anthony D said...

Are you recording their stories or random information somewhere? I imagine that over time they're going to slowly forget more and more. Hey I'd be happy to go back to their hometown and take as many pictures as you'd like if you pay my airfare! No? Ok, how about half the airfare? How about half airfare and video footage as part of the package? ;)

NoSurfGirl said...

:) Hey... if I could afford it I would go... maybe.

Half the airfaire, eh? Let's see... I think that'd be about three times what we want to spend, haha. Hey... someday when we go back we'll make sure to bring you, though.