I have to get this out - I am shaken up by what happened recently to a family who had posted pictures (before court) and had fundraising on their blog. I am terribly sad for this family and have been reading the posts on the big Ethiopian Yahoo Adoption message board. Many people seem to be blaming this family, but I put the blame on the agency. This family (and all the families) should have been told that it is against Ethiopian law to post pictures before the court date. As far as the fundraising - well, I've never heard of that being a problem, so perhaps that is new information that the agency had not been made aware of. (Please note- there are many excellent agencies that did not tell their families about this law - I am not saying anything bad about these agencies, and I'm sure that they will be changing in the near future - for the families' sake. I remember wanting so badly to post pictures of Micah before the court date, and I probably would have without thinking of it if we hadn't been expressly told not to.)
Anyway, there was a post about the issue over at the Dalai Mama and someone (I'm guessing an Ethiopian man) left a long comment and one of the things he spoke about was that children are valued higher than gold in Ethiopia. This is something we were told and was one of the reasons we chose Ethiopia to adopt from - we knew that our child would be loved and cared for until we were able to bring him home. But, hearing it in this way reminds me of the precious gift we have been given. Micah is truly a gift from God, but he is also a gift from his birth family and the Ethiopian people. We have been entrusted with raising our child who is valued more highly than gold. We feel this way about him, as I'm sure many bio parents feel about their children too. But, somehow I feel our responsibility has greater, or maybe different implications. Many times when I'm rocking him to sleep, particularly after a tough day (of teething or refusing to nap), I think of his Ethiopian Mom and how she entrusted us to always do our best for him- I know that she would be doing these things if she could, and so I feel a responsibility to live up to her in my mind. I know I never met her, but I know she loved her son, our son dearly. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by trying to live up to her standards (which are created only in my mind - so they are, in fact, my standards), but this man who left the comment reminded me this is what we signed up for. Adoption is not one-sided - it has many facets, so many emotions and is a constant learning and growing experience.
I've read that families someday turn a point when their child becomes just their child, without the constant thought of how they came into their lives. I'm not sure I'll turn that point, and I don't know if that's bad or good. I'm not saying I'll introduce Micah as "our son who was adopted," or anything like that. He is just simply our son. But the ties to his birth family and his birth country are a part of that statement too. They are one and the same.
I know I'm all over the place here. I just had to let some of this out - airing out my feelings for everyone to read helps me to make sense of them. :)