Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Adjusting to the Challenges

Since I have complete control of the content of this blog, it would be easy to keep up a fairy tale facade. But as we have readers who are on an Ethiopian adoption journey of their own, I feel it necessary to peel back the layers reveal the entire picture. Anything else would be dishonest.

If you've read this blog for long you already know how proud I am of my family. But let me take a minute and share a few of the frustrations and challenges we've faced in the last few days.

Challenge #1 - Language
I've been on plenty of cross-cultural mission trips. Whenever there's a communication breakdown we run to the missionary and s/he interprets. There's no interpreter in our house. And we know of no one in the Toledo metro area who speaks Amharic (we're still looking!). We do lots of hand signals. I'm convinced that many of our attempts to communicate end up with varying degrees of confusion. Sometimes they say things back and forth to each other and giggle uncontrollably. We usually join in the laughter. Who knows? Maybe they're making fun of us!

Challenge #2 - Food
Our girls both eat great! Several times I've mentioned Meke's ability to pack it away. But still, there are some challenges. For the first two days they were with us we gave food to Neti and Meke nearly every time they asked for it (sympathy for not having lots to eat in the orphanage, I guess). Now they (Meke especially) like to ask for food all the time. We're trying to teach them that there are certain times of the day where food happens.

Challenge #3 - Hair
This is probably Rhonda's more than mine. Kailey, our 10-year-old, had her hair braided in Ethiopia 6 days ago and it still looks fine. Meke, on the other hand, seems to need something done to her hair almost daily or her head ends up looking like a tennis ball run through a belt sander.

Challenge #4 - Maintenance
Even I've noticed the difference that having two extra bodies has on running a house. The dishwasher fills up exactly 33% more quickly. The toilet paper always has less than 4 squares left on a roll. Laundry piles up more quickly. Things get picked up less quickly. In the middle of this post I was interrupted by Neti who dropped her ring from Ethiopia down the drain.

Challenge #5 - Boundaries
Our first meeting of Neti and Meke was as genuine as could be. However, they only saw part of the picture. They experienced our love but had not yet had the opportunity to experience our boundaries or discipline. And some of the boundaries they seem accustomed to are different than ours. We're working through these together (largely through hand signals).

Challenge #6 - Toddlerdom
This one deserves a complete post of its own. Just because she's adorable doesn't mean Meke doesn't have all the tendencies of a normal 3-year-old.


At 10:07 PM , Blogger Bekah's Granny said...

I have some signing Time (sign language DVD's) that really help with understanding what Bekah wants. I can loan you them or they also have the available at the library. It would help with teaching them english and help ease some frustration to you guys so you would know what they want.

At 10:13 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

A tennis ball run through a belt sander...now there's a visual! :-) Thanks for keeping this real & for being honest!

At 10:56 PM , Blogger miranda said...

I love that you are posting about discipline. As I read, I couldn't help but think that it has to be hard for you right now to discipline as you are trying to earn their trust. Someday they will understand that love behind the discipline. And I love the crying picture! Mom has one of Bekah screaming and beet red in the face in her crib because she didn't want to go to bed about a year ago!! Definitely fun to look back on!

At 11:05 PM , Anonymous jen said...

tennis ball . . . belt sander - too funny!

But I must know - DID YOU GET THE RING BACK!??

Really, thank you SO much for sharing this. I have so enjoyed your blog, since the first (okay, maybe the fifth) post, and one of the things I appreciate the most is your honesty! It is a huge help to those of us also on this journey!


At 11:29 PM , Blogger VisualmemoriesKN said...

You may look at the websites for the local universitys UT, and BG especially they my have some professors who speak or maybe even teach african languages. I had a professor at owens who was from Rwanda by way of the UK so that may be a step to finding some help. Also use the blog post video of the things they say maybe soem one in the blogosphere can translate. Good Luck


At 12:57 AM , Blogger HawkOsky said...

Yes, I got the ring back!


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