Way Back Wednesday

*Adoption blog, star date March 2011

What's Way Back Wednesday?

In the delivery room the first hour or so after Sassafras was born, I asked the nurses if they knew her blood type. That might seem as weird to you as it probably did to them, like maybe in an odd


sort of way. Which is preposterous, of course. I know exactly who my baby daddy is. :) But the truth of it was, I was just so incredibly curious about my daughter. I simply wanted to know every last morsel, every single detail about my sweet baby girl! I just loved her so much and wanted to know everything there was to know about her.

In adoption, especially adopting an older baby, toddler, or older child, parents forfeit the ability to know everything there is to know about their child. When we accepted Pearl's referral at 6 months of age, we had to mourn the fact that there were 6 months (+ the 9 it took her birth parents to conceive and grow her) of her life we would never know anything about. And then as we were delayed and delayed and delayed from traveling to get her, we had to continuously grieve the loss of those months with her, of her outgrowing clothes I had bought especially for her, of knowing she was living a life totally apart from all of us and there was not one single thing we could to do about it. From month to month all we had were a few update pics that mostly showed very little in terms of her development. It made me so sad that t

here was no possible way I could ever know everything there was to know about her


What God taught me in all of this was that sometimes it isn't all the little details that matter. With Pearl, we lost access to the details. The big stuff, though, like knowing she was safe, somewhat content, and healthy...that was what mattered. And so I let go of the desire to know everything there was to know about my Pearl. I let it go before we left, let it go even more while we were there, and have really let it go since we've been home. It doesn't matter who she WAS, all that matters is who and where she IS. And that is ALL I need to know about her.

So imagine my shock when I was going through a drawer this weekend and found a disk her orphanage gave us after we were granted parental rights (I had stowed it away for safekeeping and promptly forgot about it, in the bustle of embassy trips and packing for day trips to the city and hot yogurt and malaria nets). It wasn't just a casual disk of images...it contained

hundreds of pictures of Pearl from a brand new infant all the way up to the week before we met her


{*In lieu of posting her entire pictures for the whole WWW to see, let me paint you a word picture instead. Use your imagination for the rest. :)}

Even from this point, with just a few weeks of life.

When she was little enough to feed and nap in 4 hour cycles.

When she had to be bundled to feel safe and couldn't hold her head up.

Though we had no idea who or where she was,

she was our baby girl.


Even when she slept on her tummy (apparently Africans either don't know or don't care about this SIDS risk). This explains why she insists to this day upon sleeping on her belly. With her booty shoved in the air. :)

Even when there were so few babies in her orphanage that she could nap in the middle of the floor.


Even when when her facial features finally started emerging from the mushy chubbiness of infancy.


Even when the aunties shaved her heads, held her, bathed her, and lotioned her.

Even when someone else got to love her for a time.


Even when she sat in the big high chair for the first time. Despite the fact that there were 22 other kids in her room, we knew Pearl was a favorite because she always got a high chair.


Even when she first fell in love with water. To this day, she loves playing in the bathtub. And she doesn't mind if it's cold.


Even when her hand-eye coordination was just developing.

Even when all she had to do was sit in a bouncy chair and soak in her world, we were crying and praying and waiting. For her.

Even when her real smile first began to blossom.


Even when she was a little sad because there were too many babies for the workers to give one on one attention.

Even when she first began to walk.

And finally, when she turned a year old, some sweet missionaries not only threw her a birthday party (unheard of in orphanage culture), they Skyped us in to it.

They did that for us because even though she was half a world away, she was our baby girl.


We had never seen any of these pictures, not in any update and not in any part of her file. We had absolutely no idea we would ever be able to know what she looked like in her early days or in all those months prior to getting her referral. 

And just like that, He has given me some more sweet pieces of the Pearl puzzle. 

I've long since stopped feeling that I had to know everything there was to know about her, but it sure was a sweet surprise to be able to know

just a little more


HIV and the orphan child

A few years back, a fellow adoptive mom launched a beautiful series on what was at that point considered an untouchable topic in most of society: HIV/AIDS. Like The Captain and me, her family was beginning to pick apart the lies that have been passed along for decades about HIV and AIDS.

Intentionally adopting children with HIV was so foreign a concept to us that while we were in process, we checked the exact same "No" box as Rachel. Pearl is and always has been completely healthy, but even though we brought home a baby who was HIV negative, our eyes have been opened to the facts about HIV in orphans.

This series, posted with her blessing, was the result of Rachel's heart's stirrings.

Quotes that resonated with me when they were originally posted and continue to ring true now:

"And since no one in our family faces this disease, we are free to speak loudly where others may face stigma." 

"Most of America has a view of HIV that is as outdated as acid-washed jeans and 1980's frizzed hair..."

"HIV/AIDS still carries a terrible stigma when in fact it's a condition more manageable than diabetes - more easily treated, and more easily avoidable."

"HIV is not what you think it is.  That is enough to cause you to do your own research.  Make sure your sources are current. You will be surprised.  The disease we labled in the 1980's as a roaring lion has been tamed into a sleeping kitten.  With medication, that is.  For those who have little access to medical care, AIDS is still a horrific mass murderer."

I hope that Rachel's series will be as helpful to you as it was for us in awakening to the false stigma slapped upon the most vulnerable in our world today.

Please do visit her blog for lots of great posts!

Island Beneath the Sea (Isabel Allende)

 Zerite was born a slave on the French island colony Saint-Domingue, a place we now know to be Haiti. She dreamed of a life beyond being someone's property, yet nothing life sent her way enabled her to escape. The paths of Toulouse Valmorain (her master) and Violette Boisier (prostitute and Zerite's friend) intertwine tragically and beautifully with Zerite's life in appalling ways, revealing a great deal about slavery and plantations on colonial Saint-Domingue and beyond. In fact, this story of Zerite's life is set in the late 1770s and spans historical events that occurred everywhere from Saint Domingue all the way to New Orleans.

Zerite is born into an inferior position in a tumultuous time, and she is a beautiful soul who lives an immensely difficult life. Throughout her story, I continued to hope against all hope that somehow things would work out for Zerite...that somehow she could ease through one loophole or another and find her happiness. Be forearned: rarely did this happen for Zerite; unfortunately, hers was a very realistic tale.

A work of historical fictionIsland Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende provides a holistic understanding of slavery in the Caribbean and gulf societies. Among the many stories colliding in this book is the fascinating history of the very factual uprising among slaves in Saint-Domingue

Slavery in America is a commonly explored topic in literature, although far from a fully exhausted one. Books such as this present the uncomfortable opportunity to digest slavery, one of the most unpalatable periods in history.