Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's A Family Affair

When I started the adoption process as a single person, I was not concerned about my ability to care for the children or make a home for them. What I struggled with initially was taking them away from Ethiopia, bringing them to Illinois where they would have no family in town except for me. I know how important family is.

I grew up in a very large extended family. My mother was one of 10 children and together she and her siblings had 35 children. That is 35 first cousins ranging in age from 61-28, aunts, uncles and second cousins in between. To understand how everyone was mixed in, there is a picture on my blog of my oldest brother and my youngest uncle who are close in age. I think I am cousin number 29! Suffice it to say there were tons of us. Every summer, most of the kids were shipped to Virginia. We all usually ended up at the house of one aunt that had seven children of her own.

The cousin that I'm closest to, was an only child although she was at our house so much it was like having a little sister. She says she has no idea what it is like being an only child because their were so many of us, she was never alone. Even though she's younger, she's been married about 15 years and has three amazing children. If I give my children new first names one will be named after my cousin Kendra in the picture--guess who is who.

On my father's side of the family, I am the youngest grandchild of 15. I have an uncle I've been in love with since I was a little girl and an 82 year old aunt that cracks me up. The two cousins I'm closest to on that side have older teenagers and my only niece will soon be 16. Many of my older cousins have adult children with children of their own. This family is old (smile) there are no more really small kids.

Knowing how close Ethio families and communities are and how I grew up, I want that for my children. What I have learned is how strong my support system is in Illinois. My friends have thoroughly embraced the adoption and can't wait for the children to get here. Many of these friends have been in my life for more than 15 years and are really closer to me than blood brothers and sisters. I am happy to say that my children now have two surrogate grandmothers, three surrogate aunts, and three uncles. I'm excited that they are so excited especially since their own children are teenagers or adults.

I am the last of all cousins on both sides to have children and I'm still looking for little kids my children's age. There are plenty at my church, but until we find more I think they will be happy with the family we've made here. Everybody is claiming a role and making plans. I love it. It looks like my children will be the babies of their new family and that's not a bad place to be.


graceling said...

I love your surrogate family:) Abigail and I are working towards building that here in PA.

Anonymous said...

wow Im so excited for you! I just found your blog--I'm an ethiopian living in North carolina and good luck with everything!please post the pictures when u bring the kids for Addis.

Anonymous said...

*from Addis

VALARIE - Single, Ethiopian-bound, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

Thank you both. It is good to hear the voice of an Ethiopian living in America.

Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]