I'm not one who is love with change. I sort of appreciate ho-hummery. It's more of an appreciation of routine and consistency than dullness. I seem to function better when I know what to expect and I can be prepared to cover those bases, always acknowledging that something may come up and I may need to shift gears.
One thing about adoption that is abundantly clear--you need to learn to roll with the punches. It seems like the process leading up to actually having your child join you in your home does its best to prepare you for that. What a rollercoaster! Our family has the added pleasure of overseas deployments to teach us some lessons in flexibility as well. It is a lesson I'm learning, but I'm an old dog and new tricks aren't easily acquired.
For all the changes we've seen in M3 so far, there are some things I dearly hope will stay the same. I'm hopeful that because she spent so much time in her beautiful home country with the lovely people there that these things are inherent in her spirit and will never, ever fade.
Her infectious smile and excitement endear her to total strangers and if she ever chooses to dim the childlike behaviors (as we usually do as we grow), I hope that inner zest for experiencing new things and meeting new people remains.
When I think about M3 and how she came to be with us, I am awestruck by her ability to adapt, change and survive all while maintaining her own identity. I think she is a marvelous example of Ethiopia and her people. I was never so impressed as I studied Ethiopia's history and how it came to be. Ethiopia has never been colonized. It is a land where vastly different religious groups coexist without violence in the streets and where citizens practice their religion without fear of persecution. It is a place where large groups of people congregate and from the outside looking in, you cannot determine whether the people are related by blood or simply new acquaintances--there are no strangers there. I don't think I have traveled somewhere in which I felt so at ease, so welcome or so safe. Truly. And, given my feelings about change and trying new things, I was not so sure how I would do traveling so far from home. I should not have been concerned.
My husband and I talked over dinner Saturday night (we were out celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary) that M3 is a special kid--how else can you explain her journey so far? We also decided that we need to keep our game stepped up to be worthy of the awesome gift and responsibility of raising this child.
She is whip smart. She remembers EVERYTHING. Her talents in this area give me hope that once she hits the classroom she will soak up all kinds of things and be excited each day to go learn something new.
M3 is an odds beater. Somewhere in her earlier childhood she not only received the care and attention that we saw time and again in Ethiopia, she also figured out, through nature and/or nurture, how to exude the spirit of her country. She's a survivor. She's a fighter. She's independent and she is giving. How else, but this inherent spirit, can one characterize her making it to five years old?
In M3's country, even if everything is uneventful and 'normal', one in 10 kids will not see her first birthday. One in six will not make it to five.
M3 is five.
She fell into a fire as a toddler and burned her hand badly. She received treatment even though there is only one physician for every 34, 988 people. It seems plausible that her family would have had to physically take her somewhere for the treatment she received. And, even after the skin graft we believe she had, her family must have worked very diligently to keep her healing hand from becoming infected.
And, as we learned last week, M3 has had malaria at some point. Malaria and the mosquitoes that carry it pervade M3's home region. I have read that a child dies in Africa every 30 seconds from a malaria infection. When we met M3's mother, she was not feeling well at all and it was attributed to her having malaria.
Given all these things and more I cannot even put into words, our family realizes what an awesome gift we have been given when we were granted permission to bring M3 home with us. I have a feeling deep in my heart that M3 will not simply be satisfied being 'average.' (Although, we certainly do not engage in pressuring kids to do things; we just want to present the opportunity for them to realize their potential).
There is nothing 'average' about this kid. She, I think, is a trailblazer and a spitfire. She, more than anything, is a survivor.
I admire her. And, I'm proud to have a chance to participate in and witness her story from now until forever.
Change is inevitable, but I do hope these core things remain the same.