Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Four years ago today, we met Sidamo for the first time. It was a monumental day—a day that changed all our our lives for ever, and, of course, for better. However, it was not the wonderful day filled with unfettered love and adoration that we all imagine first parent-child meetings to be. Sidamo was scared, emotional, and unready for another upheaval in his short life. And who could blame him?

For the first several days after meeting him, Sidamo cried anytime we walked into the room. Reluctantly he'd let me hold him and walk him around the grounds of the care center until eventually he'd crash in my arms. He was so emotionally spent and so out of control of the situation that he used the only self-protective mechanism he had at his disposal: full physical shut-down. He didn't let Greg anywhere near him until after we were all home and I experienced a physical shut-down of my own.

This isn't a part of adoption that most people outside the adoption community often consider, but it's the core of the adoption experience: In order to be adopted, a child must first suffer unimaginable loss. A child's life must be ripped apart before we begin trying to piece it back together again.

And then the child demonstrates the remarkable nature of human resilience. Sidamo has grown from a scared, lonely, and insecure toddler into the most boisterous, confident, connected child you'll ever meet. And he loves to laugh about the fact that he once preferred Mommy over Daddy. This evening I overheard him telling Nora, "Nora, when you get older, you'll like Daddy better than Mommy too." Nora's response: "Oh yeah? Well when you get younger, you'll like Mommy better."

We had a very mellow celebration tonight—Chinese takeout, lots of laughs, and a book we brought home from Ethiopia: animal stories from the Sidamo region. In one of them, a hyena eats a wily mouse, and the mouse runs straight through to the exit. Huge hit with the under-6 crowd.

We told Sidamo how lucky we are to have him in our lives, how happy we are that we met him on that day four years ago, and how much we love him. He and I also talked about how hard our first meeting was for him, and how brave he was to take a chance on us. Sidamo was, and continues to be, such a remarkable and inspirational child, and I still struggle daily to make sense of the odd imbalance of luck that gave us the privilege of parenting him.

Thank you to the lovely Sarah for this beautiful photo—and the many others I'll be poaching when I finally find the words to recap our incredible weekend.


Chatter said...

Beautiful! It was such a pleasure getting to know him this past weekend (along with his spit-fire little sister whom I fell in love with). Happy 4 years. Your family is beautiful.

Cindy said...

Happy 4 years!! Amazing how quickly the years have passed : )

hotflawedmama said...

"I still struggle daily to make sense of the odd imbalance of luck that gave us the privilege of parenting him."

Love that.

So happy I got to meet him this weekend. He is just as you said but even more wonderful! :) Happy 4 years!!!

Ashley said...

So well written! Your comments about those first meetings brought tears to my eyes. Our daughter also shut down a lot at first. We feel so blessed to have come so far. What amazing children we have!

cathy said...

Happy Famiversary. In some of the photos Sarah took, he looks 12 years old, don't you think? Despite his unspeakable start in life, I think he's thrived in your family and I love him to pieces.

fiddlehead said...

This is so well said....thank you for sharing this part of adoption.
These workds hit me too...
"I still struggle daily to make sense of the odd imbalance of luck that gave us the privilege of parenting him."
I love how you phrased I feel this so completely.

Pebble to Stone said...