It’s been basically two months to the date since we were first able to meet our son, affectionately known on the Internet as Baby T. (I prefer T-Rex, but that’s just because I will nickname the heck out of anybody: T-Rex, T-Bone, T-Dog…you get the point.)
However, we would like to officially let the world know that we have decided to name him Asher. His full name will include his Ethiopian name as his middle name: Asher Terefe Ford. (My buddy Jake is already calling him ATF in the mold of RG3, the former Heisman trophy winner, Robert Giffin, III.) We’ll share more on the choosing of this name at a later date, I’m sure.
Since we first met Asher back in June, a lot has transpired and I have been commissioned to provide an update, the reason of which you’ll understand as I explain our current situation.
Today marks the 12th day that Liza and I have been separated. She left for Africa on July 30th to live side by side with our son, and has been a single mom with him in a third world country ever since. More on that in a second, too.
To play catchup, Liza has blogged about the process over our on other site, AddictedtoSaving.com, so if you’ve missed out on some of the backstory:
- Read the blog entry Back From Africa – We Passed Court!, dated June 17th, 2013.
- Read the blog entry Baby T Adoption Update – I’m Going Back to Ethiopia, dated July 18th, 2013.
- Read the blog entry Adoption Update: We Have Been Submitted to US Embassy, dated July 24th, 2013.
This circles us back to where we currently stand. Liza has been in Ethiopia since July 30th, struggling to do her best to be a mom.
One of the reasons I’m writing this blog update and not her is because she is absolutely gassed. Some of you know this about my wife, but that girl could sleep 12 hours a day if she didn’t have other responsibilities. Whereas I can get by pretty soundly on 6-7 hours, Liza realistically needs about 9 to function on all cylinders.
I think those days are over.
It wouldn’t be so bad if she were here. But she spent the first 10 days in a Guest House in the capital city of Addis Ababa, and the conditions weren’t the best. For those of you who don’t know what a Guest House is, think of it as a reality show where a whole bunch of people live in one three or four story house, share bathrooms, and try to get along as best as possible. The difference is, this reality show takes place in a third world country where you’re behind a concrete wall with barbed wire on the top, you dare not drink the local water or eat a ton of local food (I speak from experience), and in Liza’s case, her room smelled like raw sewage all the time. And unfortunately, her Guest House had fleas and the mosquitoes were bad, which aren’t necessarily the Guest’s House fault, but has made for a very bad experience there. When you factor in trying to be a first time mom with an institutionalized 10 month old in a third world country all by yourself – well, I’m sure you can see how that might be a little trying.
(Liza’s view from her room at the Guest House; notice all the cows which roam freely in the streets of Addis Ababa)
Not only that, but in addition to the fleas and mosquitoes, our son has ringworm and absolutely hates going into or coming out of sleep. Liza can tell he’s exhausted, but with all the kid has been through and will continue to go through until he adjusts to his life here in the States, it’s understandable that he’s pretty upset.
Adoptive children who have been institutionalized often struggle with conditions like sensory disorders, and we think Asher is a prime candidate. When you live in an orphanage, you learn to cope with your situation as best you know how. While the caregivers were amazing at his orphanage (foster home, they call it), and we know they cared for Asher very much, with 50 children and only a handful of workers, there’s only so much they can do.
So Liza is not only learning to be a first time parent in a third world country by herself, but she’s dealing with the sensory issues that Asher seems to have, as well as the attachment issues that come in the adoptive child/parent relationship. Even simple things like taking a shower or going to the bathroom become tougher, because if she leaves the room while he’s in his crib even for a second, in his mind, she’s broken trust. He doesn’t understand that she’s coming back, and that for the rest of his life, she will always, always be there for him. He doesn’t know that he’ll never have to worry about being abandoned again, and that when he cries, she’ll be there to sooth him every single time. He also doesn’t understand what it’s like to have a male figure in his life of any consequence, which is the distinct privilege I now have, just as soon as we can get him home. But since the day we saw his face in an email, he has been my son, and I have prayed for him every day of my life since that moment.
He just doesn’t understand any of that yet.
(This was mom and Asher back in June at his orphanage. Some of the Ethiopian women are asking if Asher is Liza’s biological mom. I guess with those big brown eyes and the olive skin tone of my wife, I can see it. Once they see the pasty white skin of Dad, however…)
Okay, how about some good news?
- He is pretty smart. He’s picking up on momma’s lessons, and is even saying “mommamommamomma” through his broken baby jibberish. Isn’t it interesting that you don’t really need an interpreter with a baby, no matter what country you’re in!
- He is also saying “dadadada,” which I’m pretty sure is just because he’s a baby and that’s what babies do, but Mom has been showing him pictures of me, so let’s hope he makes the connection.
- He is bonding with Mom. He looks anxiously for her when he’s waking up or in his pack ‘n play from a nap. And when Liza has been with some other adoptive mommas there, and has left him for a bathroom break, according to another mom, “He lights up when you walk in a room.”
That last one brought me tears. Actually, there have been a lot of tears from me, and a lot “God, please help her”‘s as well. But this, too, shall pass. And soon, we can experience all the joys of parenthood together, with American food, air conditioning, bug and pest control bills, and showers. Nice, hot showers, which I know she has missed.
(Did I mention Asher was teething?)
Many have asked, “How long will she be there?” Well, we’re not sure. But here is what we’re hoping for, and here is the prayer that you can pray for us.
On August 15th, the person who found Asher is supposed to appear before the Embassy. We know that he lives a far way away, so just getting him to the appointment is very much in doubt. But we really need him to appear when he is supposed to. If he does, and if everything checks out, then we believe she and Asher will have a very good chance at coming home shortly after that. This would be a miracle, because we both thought it would take much longer. I can’t tell you how vital it is that the Finder testify on the 15th at 7:30 a.m. That will mean it’s like 12:30 am EST here in the States, but I will be up praying!!!
There is another piece of great news I should share. After following Liza’s journey on Facebook, a friend of ours from college who, along with his wife, adopted a child a couple years ago, decide to do one of the most generous acts of kindness ever – he redeemed some Amex points from his business travel and prepaid for Liza and Asher to spend 8 nights in the Sheraton! Words don’t adequately convey the emotion of relief, thanks, and gratitude I have for this friend’s act of generosity. It was an answer to prayer, quite frankly, and Liza and Asher will be in the Sheraton until the 16th, which just happens to be the day after the Finder is supposed to appear. Hopefully you see why that’s such an important date! (In case you were wondering, this ain’t the Motel 6 either. This gift was one of abundance.)
(baby Asher in his new surroundings at the Sheraton Hotel)
That’s were we stand. I can’t tell you how amazing God has been in His faithfulness through the encouragement and support of the men and women He created. Skeptics often talk about people doing all the work, and believers often talk about God doing all the work. The truth is, BOTH parties are doing the work, hand in hand, in a mystery of collaboration made possible by one, yet fulfilled by another. I don’t pretend to understand it, but understanding how something works usually isn’t nearly as important as simply understanding that it does.
So thank you to everyone who has prayed, given financially, given of their time or other physical resources, or have just told us you love us. It means everything, and we feel privileged to know how many people genuinely care for us. It’s a blessing that not everyone gets, and we don’t want to ever take it for granted.