Here are some of the highlights….
We had our first Easter together in the states.
We celebrated second birthdays! Francine turned four and Keta five.
We made our second trek to Lake Powell.
We’ve been visited several more times by the tooth fairy.
We played scientist at mama’s school.
We grew. A lot.
We acted silly. A lot.
We made messes that made me contemplate the ease of moving over cleaning.
We celebrated Christmas together as a family for the second time!
We now have a cat.
We had our first snow day.
We went hiking. We flew kites. We had adventures. We learned a few new things.
We learned more about this whole family thing.
We had an awesome second year together!
I guess this is the two-year anniversary of this blog, wordpress says. I was still sitting here in the states two years ago today, getting ready for a much anticipated trip to meet my daughters. I can almost feel all of the excitement and optimism, the butterflies in my stomach, really having no idea what was ahead. I see myself sitting at home, double checking and triple checking my list, hoping. Just hopeful and eager. I can remember it all, one detailed moment after another. I remember it like a blur, too. All the preparation, getting to finally travel, getting travel details arranged, getting on the plane and off again and again in different countries, ever closer to that moment, the end of The Wait and the beginning of everything else. I see the view out the airplane window. I’m looking down at Lubumbashi, the sea of sameness, and I wonder if I’ve glimpsed their home, wonder what they’re doing, wonder how they’ll ever get through the trauma of the next few days and weeks, months and years even. I look out the window, hopeful and eager. I look out the window at the beginning, hopeful and eager.
Guppies for sale! One for a dollar, ten or more – Free! Guaranteed to be replaced free if lost or stolen or dead within, ever. K and F thought it would be fun to have an aquarium. I did too, but acted like it was all their idea and isn’t mama so nice for getting this set up?! I’m not proud. Anyway, this would be no problem. These little guys are low maintenance. I researched the lowest maintenance ones to be sure. Plus, we already had an aquarium, just needed to fill it! Felt like we were practically home free. That turned out to not be the case.
Apparently, these tiny little “low maintenance” fish like to be warmer than whatever temperature it happens to be in that corner of our house. They also like rocks and plants and places to hide. They also like their water to be filtered, some kind of double filtration thing. Stock up on the filters, they don’t tell you. Those things get gross, quickly. They like a lid with a light too. Even though I measured the top of the aquarium, both inside and out to be completely sure I’d know what to buy (we’re two hours from the nearest pet shop), and calculated the capacity, twice, the lid that was “guaranteed to fit” did not. My grandpa was extremely handy and incredibly smart and could figure out how to solve any problem. Sadly, this was not passed to me. I know he would have been silently shaking his head seeing me bending hangers. No wire cutters or whatever tool might have just snipped the hanger the perfect length could be found in my desk or garage and scissors will help get it started, but won’t finish the job. So, the only thing to do was bend these hangers back and forth and back and forth……. Then I used Elmer’s white school glue because that’s all I dare have with kiddos around, which naturally did not work at all, so I had to buy Gorilla glue. Finally, I glued enough pieces of mangled hanger to the inside top of our free aquarium to prevent the too small “guaranteed to fit” lid from falling into a tank of water and electrocuting our newly acquired “low maintenance” pets. The lid is pretty secure, but my brilliant hanger support system makes for some hard to reach places when vacuuming. Yes, vacuuming supposedly makes cleaning easier. Whatever.
So, finally it’s set up and it is really fascinating and relaxing to watch. I had twelve dollars worth of fish shipped for seventy-five dollars. Okay, that’s not quite true but shipping was more than the fish. We lost eight fish right away. In a panic I ordered six more. I just spent whatever getting this d@mn thing set up. It will not sit here empty! We lost another four within 24 hours. We now have no less than 97 guppies. It’s hard to get an accurate count. I read that it’s really hard to raise guppies. Most will die immediately and the rest will be eaten. If you want to raise them you have to separate them from the rest. Super! These are lies. Lies! It’s easy to raise guppies. The big guys refuse to eat them, even if you forget (or refuse) to feed them one day. We now have a second smaller aquarium. To make matters worse, I thought plants would be a good idea. I read that live plants would help keep things clean, complete the nitrogen cycle, and look good too. That might be true. Our plants, however, came with a snail apparently too small to be noticed for a while. Surprise! Love it, kind of. Free snail! Which, I read will help keep the aquarium clean. Bonus! This thing recently started to lay eggs like crazy, but there was just the one snail, so no worries. Maybe some of the fish would eat the eggs and choke. And die. Turns out these eggs turn into baby snails! Baby. Snails. Part of me thinks it’s kind of awesome to notice a tiny speck moving slowly around the tank and realize it’s a tiny baby snail no bigger than the end of a straight pen, but seriously?!? Baby. Snails. I don’t know what’s happening to make this a perfect environment for babies, but just in case it’s somehow contagious, this kitty is going under the knife the second she’s old enough. We cannot have baby kittens. Unless they’d eat baby guppies……
We’ve talked about their stories, what little we know, from the very beginning. We talk about DR Congo often. We enjoy food and music and fabrics from their birth country and we’re slowly learning kiSwahili. They know as much about their first families and their background as I know in whatever way they can process and understand it. There’s sadness and grief. There’s fear and uncertainty. There’s insecurity. There’s a desperate longing for answers to all those unanswerable questions. At least now, Keta and Francine have enough belief in me, in us as a family, and in the answers to ask some of those tough questions. Only a few I can answer. Some they are still too afraid to ask. After almost two years and in the middle of casual conversations I’m asked if at some future point I’ll still be the mama. I’m thankful that they trust the answer enough to ask. Before, I think they were too afraid to ask. If the answer was no, they’d rather not know. Now, after almost two years, they’re pretty confident, but still not certain, that the answer is yes. I forget. I forget it’s still a concern and that after almost two years they still need almost daily reminders that I am the mama forever. Yes, even when you go to kindergarten and even when you play soccer. Yes, when you go to college and when you make bad choices and all the times between and until then, I’m your mama, no matter what. What does it feel like to wonder, to constantly worry and fear that all will be lost, again? I’m still in awe that of the millions of kids in need, these two are here, with me, a plain-Jane-regular girl from rural Colorado. I looked out at the whole world and found THESE two. (I stole that.) It completely amazes me. Although to me, there are no two smarter and more wonderful kids anywhere, there are millions just as fantastic who need families. Maybe yours?
Here are a few of the other questions that have started really hard and really necessary and really great for bonding conversations.
How did you pick us from the “ornaphage”?
You rescued us? (This one horrified me! We “rescued” our pets, but that K would find her situation similar……Yikes!)
Will you still be the mama?
What is adoption anyway?
Why did you see my picture so much after Francine? (I lost a referral and got a referral for Keta several months after I saw Francine’s picture. Lots of confused feelings about that for Keta.)
Will you still be the mama?
Did my first mama died? (The answer to this one is different for my two. For one, the need for a new mama is pretty obvious. Her first mama died, naturally she’d need another. To the other, the need for a new mama is very unclear. If her first mama is alive…..)
Why we don’t have a daddy? (I guess that’s kind of selfish on my part.)
Will you still be the mama?
Almost two years!