Thursday, September 4, 2008

The rest of the trip and now home!

This is the face of the girl that we met in Addis... she was like this very much of the time but we got some fun pictures in Ethiopia too (not many). Why am I smiling? Not a clue, if you can figure out why send me an email! Perhaps I knew how she'd change 100% when we left for good.

Here I was feeding her - see my fake smile? Actually, I was very happy because she took food from me for the first time! Yay!

Notice the only happy pictures of her were in our room - she loves Barbie which I have since re-named to "Bedhead Barbie". Once Tessa got hold of this doll it was all over for her hair, poor Barbie! We have new black Barbie's at home!

Here little girl, want some bracelets?? Can I buy your love?? :) Look at my stupid smile!

Unfortunately we brought this for nothing. 1. The battery died 2. She had NO interest in any type of videos or TV until a few days ago!

Getting her hair done for the coffee ceremony on the last day, can you see how tired I look! I do like this picture because I look pretty thin!

After getting ready to go downstairs for the ceremony and goodbye's she conked out on me!

MP got up and said the most beautiful things to the caregivers and staff on behalf of all of the families in our group - I wish I had it on video, it made for some very teary eyes!

This is the packed they gave us at the ceremony and you can see on my face how emotional it all was. The nannies from the big kid house came over with many of the children and sang songs etc... I so wish I could show a little video of Tessa's goodbye song (they sang it before handing her over to my arms)... it was gut wrenching. After the ceremony we zipped our bags and had a light dinner with the group, then Mulat came to bring us to the airport. Many of the folks walked out the front door and waved as we got situated in the van and drove off. This moment scared the crap out of me - we were completely 100% her parents and caregivers ALL THE TIME from here on out! Yikes, we were leaving for all kinds of travel with a complete stranger! After we settled in at the airport I noticed she was fine, not just OK, but fine! The trip home was a joy and so is our new life! Something overcame her when we were at the airport, like God waved his hand over her body and mind and put her at ease. She knew what we represented from the moment she saw us and that's why she fought us. I think she decided that life would be ok with us and she just instantly changed... I don't know how to describe it, the fear, anger, attitude all literally washed out of her face and it hasn't resurfaced one time! Not one! Don't get me wrong, she's withdrawn a few times when confused or scared but is nothing like she was there. She is our miracle girl, so strong and sweet and full of grace. She's fragile and trusting of us, it's wonderful.

It feels like it was yesterday but even more it feels like it was eons ago, it's all so fresh and all so foggy at the same time -


We are so blessed and we love her very much, she is a joy to be with and I can't say enough about her. Nick is having a tough time but he's dealing ok, he's been a real pain in the butt (not including my busted tail bone)! Here are a few of the things I've learned about Tessa since I've known her...

Our daughter is:

FUNNY (thank you God - I so wanted a funny girl)- she's hysterical and her timing is dead on!

SWEET - she is SO cuddly and kisses me ALL DAY LONG out of nowhere! Her accent is too much!

GENEROUS - she shares so well with Nicholas and is always trying to give things to people.

PATIENT - she doesn't get frustrated when trying to do things, she takes her time

CONTENT - I can put her on the counter while I'm cooking (for an hour and a half one day) and she's content just watching me or playing with a doll, she doesn't WHINE EVER

AGREEABLE - no tantrums, meltdowns, or hissy fits if she doesn't get something she wants. The most I've seen her do is get a serious face and look upset (but I've figured out that humor quickly gets her out of her mood - All I have to do is make a funny face at her and she cracks up)

Sad - this one I hate because I can't change it, she's still in our room at night and cries/moans/screams/and get's very worked up into a sob on most nights - asleep all the time, she never wakes up. She's comforted within a minute or two until the next memory or dream an hour or so later that rocks her night... it's getting less and less, it's so sad. She wakes up beaming and is beaming and gitty almost all day.

BRAVE - she's been out and about with us since day one (which we didn't plan on) and is cool with everything we've done. She's just now doing good with house visitors and I've lifted the moratorium on house visits from friends. She's realizing that immediate family poses no threat to her new happy life and is very loving to them!

TINY - still in 18-24 months and barely into 2T! She's so petite!

STUNNING - beyond what the pictures convey she's stunning from the inside out!

She spontaneously throws her arms around me/MP when she sees a camera pointed our way for a photograph!

Just looking at this picture I want to squeeze her - hard!

Not too strong with a ball and still cannot figure out a big wheel or pedals - soon!

Look at that face!

And she LOVES spicy food, she tries to eat salsa like it's a stew or main dish! :) And she's my only child who goes banana's for my meatballs!!! I've already made two more batches!

And my guy - he's so handsome!


  1. so glad you are inviting people over, the magic genei (sp?) who keeps my home neat was looking for an invite :>) PQ


    Yes to your wonderful meat balls! YIPEE!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. She is so beautiful.

    I wanted to chime in about the sad comment. That sounds like night terrors to me since she never is conscious. You may want to research and see if that is what it is, although it totally could be adoption related as well. Night Terrors effect 15% of all children between the ages of 2-6. While they are upsetting for the parents our daughter never remembers hers.

  3. This is so bittersweet and beautiful, Lor! I know that you guys went through a horrendous fire to get Tessa home, but the miracle of her heart and mind changing towards you has GOT to be so worth it! Love all the photos, love her precious face, love the emotional shot of you guys at the final dinner... What an amazing and transforming week! Tessa is blessed, you are blessed, and God is so good!
    I'm so happy for you that being home has been wonderful. You will watch this little flower bloom so delightfully in the next few months. I can hardly wait to hear about it!

  4. I loved reading about your journey to bring your daughter home. Your honesty is greatly appreciated and I commend you for it. Your daughter and your family are not only beautiful but look ridiculously happy.


  5. The pictures are so amazing. I love the transition from ET to home life through the pics.

    Birhanu loved the video clip. He's crawling on me right now saying, "Good-Bye". Which means, mom, play that damm video of T again or all sock you in the face. Just kidding. We would love more video!!!

  6. I love how candid you are about your whole experience! The captions of the pictures crack me up (buying her love with bracelets!). Her face is so sweet. The picture of her in the bathtub is pretty precious. I'm so glad that you get to be her mommy!

  7. I am glad things are better... Thank you for sharing your journey in such an honest way!

    Tessa is beautiful, I love all the pictures!

  8. I'm so pleased that she is adjusting. It must be a lot for a little girl to have to go through changing all her environments. She is so gorgeous! Great little video!

  9. It is so amazing to see the transformation from the day you became a family to now. Tessa is so happy and so beautiful!! I have loved following your journey and can't wait to watch her grow even more!

  10. What a great family. I loved reading the "things I've learned about her" section. beautiful.

  11. Beautiful post! Made me cry for so many different reasons. You and your family are just magic and I adore each of you!
    Much love,

  12. What a BEAUTY! She is really lovely. I'm sad that she is having a hard time at night. :( It's probably all part of the grief process, poor little thing. It was great hearing more of your story and seeing more photos. You guys seem to be doing such a great job!

  13. gosh, i love your blog. you are so honest and so funny and you keep me from being able to decide between baby and toddler adoption! gosh, she's just so adorable. glad your adjustment is going well.

  14. oh, and i forgot to say... more videos!! they are great and you're right-her accent is too cute!

  15. Oh! It is so magical to see her sweet smile! It is beautiful and lights up her whole face! Makes me so happy for her and for you!!

  16. I forget if I have commented before or not...but have been reading for a while! Enjoyed hearing about your journey- thanks for sharing!

  17. What an amazing journey your family has been on! Your daughter is a beauty... you sound clearly head over heels ... so glad for you :)

  18. I have been following you blog lately as I found it through another blog.
    We are still praying about adoption but are very close to taking the next step. We would like to adopt a toddler boy.
    I love how real you have been and it encourages me that even if it is rough at first, bonding and joy can happen.
    Thanks for being willing to share!

  19. You guys do seem to be doing such an amazing job! She is a DOLL! I can't believe how tiny she is too... she is smaller than Silas T! Love the photos, I laughed out loud at the picture of you offering her bracelets..
    "Can I buy your love?" You are funny.

    Beautiful kids you have!

  20. Lori, We just returned this week with our little ones.I have lots of questions for you. Your little girl is a doll. I hope That handsome son of yours is doing well! He has the best grin!
    What are you using on her hair?

  21. I love all the pictures. She is truly beautiful! And no worries about your son. My Seamus had a VERY hard time with Marlie's addition to the family and was a huge pain... but now they are totally best friends.

  22. Not sure that I could love her anymore! She is absolutely yummy. Can you even believe this Lor, we are both home with our kids. Unbelievable!!

    Love you! :)

  23. I just found your blog!! She is adorable - watch out supermodels...there is a new girl in town:)!!


  24. What a trip! How wonderful to be home! Your little girl sounds so precious. I am so enjoying learning about my kids' personalities and seeing them grow and learn. You are both doing an amazing job! Thank you so much for sharing.

    With Love,

  25. It is refreshing to know that even if the trip to ET is very, very difficult that things can take a huge turn for the better. What a lovely family. I want to squeeze her too! She is sooooo cute. Love the video. Her accent is adorable.

  26. Praise God! I've been praying for you and your adjustment daily. This post warms my heart. Tessa is BEAUTIFUL and I wish you lived closer. Praying for sweet Nick.

  27. Awww, what a greatt family! You are all so cute! She is tiny; Zufan is already into all 2Ts, and fills them out! Give Nick an extra hug from me. What a sweetie.

  28. Your smile is brilliant. As in really really pretty AND as in a brilliant ploy to make her feel and see that it's all gonna be okay. You have amazing strength and it is obviously paying off in comforting such a beautiful girl. I hope to meet you all tomorrow afternoon in Cambridge.