Sunday, January 10, 2010

Oh...I Forgot!

We had a really nice Ethiopian Christmas celebration! George couldn't wait to eat injera and wat. I was able to get the food the day before at The Ethiopian Cottage, a wonderful restaurant on the east side of Milwaukee. I decorated the table with and Ethiopian table cloth and put out 4 different kinds of wat and a plate full of injera.

For a few days before the actual day of Christmas, George kept talking about teaching his brothers and sisters how to eat Ethiopian food without utensils. Every time we would talk about injera he would motion how to eat it and say, "I will teach the kids!"

So, the table was set, the kids gathered round, and we thanked God not only for our food, but also that we now have the privilege of sharing in a different tribes celebration of Christ's birth. We put wat on all the kids' plates, passed out the injera and watched them dig in. A few minutes went by before I noticed that George was eating his wat with a fork and just holding a roll of injera in his hand!

I gasped, "Georgie! What are you doing?"

"Oh my goodness!", he replied, "Oh...I forgot!" He then unrolled a piece of injera and started eating the way he had eaten food for his entire life. A little awkward at first, it took a while for him to become comfortable eating this way.

I have to admit, it was so difficult for me to watch George eat when we first picked him up. He would often forget to grab a fork and would instead shovel food into his mouth, lots of goo spilling through his finger, rolling down his chin and generally making a huge mess. Sometimes I thought I would literally get sick watching him eat. It took me a long time to be able to look at him while we shared a meal.

Slowly but surely, George started using a fork and a napkin and taking his time with his food. Now, we can talk while we eat, although we do have to remind him to slow down each and every meal. He isn't nearly as messy, but we can always tell which napkin George used as it is absolutely covered and in tatters.

But, when I saw my Ethiopian son struggling with his injera and wat, my heart broke a bit. We have the opportunity to teach George what it means to be an American, including a free education, freedom to worship in any church, and ample supplies of food and fun. He has embraced American life fully! In fact, he rarely wants anything to do with Ethiopia, a child from Ethiopia or anything with Africa these days. Bringing Ethiopian Christmas into our house was a challenging moment for him, he was suddenly faced with embracing his Ethiopian heritage while still embracing his American life. This was much harder on him than I anticipated.

As a family, we have fallen in love with Ethiopia. My heart longs to get back there!We enjoy the food, the clothing, and the beautiful people from Ethiopia. We did not think that our Ethiopian son would want little to do with his home country. I am sure part of this is his way of dealing with the massive amounts of change in his life over the last few years. How could a child possible deal with going from an impoverished African country to a comfortable life in America? The psychological implications are huge for adopting an older child and putting him a in new home that was so different from 6 years of his life.

All of a sudden George has 4 siblings. All of a sudden, George goes to school and rides in a car every day. All of a sudden, George has enough food to eat. All of a sudden, he has two parents who are healthy and love him. We were told to prepare...for one was quite sure. So that made the preparations, mentally and emotionally, pretty difficult. This is new territory for all of us and as we stumble our way through this new normal, I am constantly being forced to my knees before a loving, holy God and asking for His help.

Sometimes I have to be reminded how much change George has faced over the past year. I am now in a place of treating him just like my other children, yet I can't quite do that yet! There are still great circumstances that surround each and every reaction to any situation. I never know what I am going to get when George is faced with something new...but I guess that is part of the excitement of adoption.

Lots of rambling here, I know. I am greatly distracted as I try to write this post. I read a phrase that describes who I am now....gloriously ruined. More on that later, as I have not been able to shake these words. That is now me...gloriously ruined.

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