From Belly Mommy To Birth Mother

Emme has always known that she has a Belly Mommy in Ethiopia and a that I am her Heart Mommy. For the past 4 1/2 years we have little chats that stayed within the simplicity of that explanation. Until a few days ago. I listened as my five year old asked the questions that have been asked before, and then witnessed her heart break as she realized the loss that she had so early in her life.

For an hour and a half we talked, cried and held each other. Together our hearts anguished. This was the first time as her Mommy that I truly could not “make it better”. I listened to myself as I told her that some things in life are sad, and it is ok to be sad about this. I shared with her the sad thing in my life, my infertility. I also told her that we never would of found each other if that sadness had not been a part of my life. This entire conversation felt to mature for a five year old, yet I consciously made a choice to be very open, honest and real with her.

We sat there at the end picking up the pieces of reality around us. I shared with Emme that there was one more step that we can do to try to find her Birth Mother, and that I as her Mommy will do my best to find her.

This is why I am coming back to this blog. Emme’s journey is not over. I will journal it for her so one day she have it as her own.

Emme does not call her Belly Mommy anymore, she calls her Birth Mother.

It is not lost on me that this occurred a week before Mothers Day.

THIS…….is for Emme’s heart.


1 comment May 9, 2014

A New Journey

Last week I submitted these photos to 4 modeling agencies with the Portland area. Within 10 minutes, I had heard from one them wanting to meet Emme. Tomorrow is our first meeting. This is an exciting time, it is not that often that you feel like you are standing at the edge of something, that you feel will be very big. You do not know for sure how, big, maybe even small. Nevertheless, this meeting tomorrow will be a life experience, that we get to share together. I get so excited to think about what opportunities for Emme, could come from this meeting.

Add a comment December 13, 2011

The Man With The Brown Face

As a multi-cultural family, we have chosen to be at the frontline when it comes to racial identity.  For Mike and I, the fact that Emme would be black, honestly was an after thought.  We had come to realize that we cannot conceive, and that adoption was going to be our journey to parenthood.  After quickly realizing that international adoption was the best path for us…….AFRICA CHOSE US.  How?  I don’t think I can explain it to you, other than during our 18 years together, we seem to make very big decisions, in very small moments.  In this case, it was during a phone call with Mike’s Mom, and in a split second, we looked in each others eyes, and AFRICA CHOSE US.

Now that we have been home 2 1/2 years we have accumulated many lives experiences in regards to this subject.  Most of them are part of life as a multi-cultural family, and an opportunity to teach those that may ask (appropriate and, not so appropriate) questions.  As I said, we chose to be at the frontline of racial identity.

It is interesting to me that experts say that kids do not see color until they are around 5 years old.  I have thought differently about this for some time.  I have watched numerous times, Emme playing at a playground, and be drawn to play with other kids that are black.  Yesterday, my almost three-year-old and I had a conversation that made my mind up:

While getting in her car seat to go to school, Emme starts talking about the birthday party that she attended the day before.  It was for one of our Ethiopian friends, Alec.  Alec has a sister who is also from Ethiopia, and his Mommy (Becky) is a good friend.  Alec’s Daddy, who is from Burma was also at the party.  We have play dates all the time with Alec and Haven and Becky, but it is not that often that we see their Daddy.

Emme says to me, “Mommy!  Remember we went to the party with the bouncy things.” “I do!”, I said.  “Yeah, I played with…what was that girls name?” “Esther.” “I like Esther.” Emme said, and then with her big eyes, “Yeah! We played with Haven, and Alec and Becky!  And……..Mommy. who was the man with the brown face?” “That is Haven and Alec’s Daddy, Naing.”  “Oh….I like Naing.”

I smiled as I finished putting her in her car seat.  A day later, I am still smiling.  Kids do see color.  Thank goodness, because the world is full of it, just like nature, humans are many shades, and many colors.  I want her to see that.  I also want to help her cherish every un-spoiled thought in her young mind about the colors of the world.  It is later in life when that subject will become more complicated.  I think that is what the experts are referring to.

Add a comment December 13, 2011
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I looked for you……


I want you to know that I looked for you tonight.  It may have been only a facebook search, but I looked for you.

You gave me the most amazing gift, and thinking of the fact that you very well may be living amongst famine, breaks my heart!!!

Who are you?  I want to know.

I hope your reality is not as horrible as I imagine.

I love you!

Thank you,

Selam’s Mommy

Add a comment October 22, 2011

Life Changes: From A Two Year Old Perspective

Summer 2011 will be one that will go down in the history books.  I like to think of myself as someone who embraces life’s journey.  This summer our journey very swiftly brought us to a place where we had to deal with a serious injury that my husband suffered and then a relocation and that is just within the past 2 months.  So, what do you do?  Buck it up and trudge forward.  I started writing this post a few weeks ago, and now realize that the trials our family have faced in the past couple of months have been an opportunity for me to start teaching Emme how to deal with the ups and downs with life.  This realization is a little scary, as I hope we have made a good example for her.  I think we can say confidently that we did the best we could.  With that being said, this is an eye-opening moment for me to realize, this is it.  This is Emme’s childhood, I am her Mommy, and I am teaching her how to deal with life.  WOW!  No longer is she a tiny little baby, she is a little girl.  I love the saying, “They may not listen to you all the time, but they are always watching.”

Add a comment October 21, 2011

Bonding & Attachment: Part 2?

This blog is very G-rated.  My intention from its inception in Feb. 2008 is and continues to be, a journal for Emme.  Seriously, there are a lot of kittens, lollipops & everything nice on here.  Today I want to talk about something not so perfect.  Will I leave it as part of my journal for Emme to read one day?  Maybe…maybe I will delete it after I have worked past my current emotions.  Maybe I will leave it.  Maybe the fact that I am willing to put so much thought into this subject, shows how much I truly, deeply love this little girl.  So here it goes:

Life with Emme is tough right now!  Emme is so strong-willed, that at times, I feel she can over power me.  Those that know me, know how strong of a personality I have, so that is saying a lot!  Although we had a quite nice lunch with a friend today, most of our days are filled with tantrums.  Tantrums that include screaming, hitting, kicking, throwing and within the past couple of days, my old friend..biting!  There is virtually no listening to my words, and consequences like time-outs do not seem to have an effect, and are usually concluded with her mocking me.

My thoughts have recently traveled down the path to bonding and attachment.  When Emme came home there was no period of time where we bonded, we bonded..instantly.  I wonder, given the fact that she was only 5 months old, if now that she is two, we are going to go through this??  Or, does it have nothing to do with adoption , & everything to do with the natural relationship between a Mother and a daughter at this age.  Deep down I believe it is the latter, but I wonder.

I do see the inner conflict inside of her.  She talks like a three-year-old and looks like a three-year-old, but her emotions are VERY two.  The classic, “I do it!” overtakes with a strong will that forbids any opportunity for me to teach her…anything…putting clothes on, drinking from a straw, walking through parking lots, etc., etc., etc…

So, we keep going every day, with me honestly trying to be the best Mommy I can be.  I do my best to be consistent.  I do my best to teach & mold her.  I do wake up every morning praying to the universe for patience and strength.

Everyone told me that parenting is the toughest thing you will ever do.  You all could have told me in every way possible, but there would have been no way for me to truly get it until now.  Can I go back to conducting seminars on the 1031 tax law?  That was a piece of cake!

2 comments May 10, 2011

Belly Mom & Heart Mom

The day after we met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Personally, I do not think it is ever to early to start talking with Emme about her adoption story. My intent is from her earliest memory, it is just part of who she is. My husband and I have decided that at this point, the story sounds something like this:

“You are so lucky because you have two Mommies. You have your heart Mommy, that is me, and you have your belly Mommy, Aden in Ethiopia.”

Because she is only two now, we really do not need to go into any further detail. However, this does not stop me from looking into the future, and imagining how I plan on expanding the story so that is evolves into a foundation of where she comes from. Through Emme, I have come to realize how lucky I am to take that for granted.

Yesterday, in celebration of National Birth Mothers Day, we planted wild flowers in our back yard. Mike and I have decided that this is how we plan on celebrating Aden every year. As I watched Emme plant the flowers, I was surprised how emotional it was for me. There was so many layers of emotion. I felt pride for myself as a Mother, as I begin to nurture this part of Emme. I felt curious, but sad about Aden. Who is she?…..WHO IS SHE? I wonder every day, especially now that Emme is so big. Emme’s personality shines brighter every day. Now that she is two, I see this VERY strong little girl. It makes me desire to meet Aden more & more. Even though Aden is a stranger, I love her because I love Emme. If she only knew the gift that she gave me. I hope honestly in my heart that somehow the universe tells her that.

So when I look at the title of my post, in my heart, Belly Mom & Heart Mom equally combine to be, well…… a part of Emme.

Enjoy the video of Emme planting Aden’s flowers:

Add a comment May 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma

Add a comment April 12, 2011

Life Without Witches

One of Emme’s favorite things to do it play with play-dough.  The other day, while sorting through my collection of cookie cutters she came across this one:

Excitingly she exclaimed, “Oh look!  Firefighter!  Firefighter putting out the fire!”  I said to her, “That does look like a firefighter.” As I giggled to myself, I realized seeing it from the Emme perspective, it does look like a firefighter.  What a perspective it is…

We all see the classic Halloween figure, without a second thought.  However, this last two Halloween’s, we have kept Emme’s exposure very G rated.  In her mind there a smiling pumpkins &  maybe a silly black cat or two, but no witches.  They are scary and mean. 

In fact my definition of a witch, does not have that much to do with Halloween, as much as it has to do with a person in your life that acts inappropriately, and gets away with it because….well..everyone knows they are a witch!  You know who I am talking about, we all have them in our lives.  It could be a co-worker, a family member, even the guy who is tailgating you as you are driving down the freeway.  You let him pass, only to watch him tailgate the next person.  Yes, he is a witch.

How lucky Emme is to have no definition of this type of person.  As her Mommy, I am going to keep it that way for as long as I possibly can. 🙂

Add a comment March 11, 2011

Valentine Surprise, For Mommy…

I wanted Emme to have a pacifier.  It was part of how I imagined my baby girl.  I remember vividly in Ethiopia trying to get her to take it.  They had no “toe-toe’s” (The Amharic word for Pacifier) at the orphanage.  To me it was a another way to share my love with her, especially when I was not with her.

Fast forward to now, and things are a little different.  We had been successful quite some time ago in making the toe-toe just a nap or bed time thing.  As time went on, I knew the day was going to come when I was going to have to take it from her.  Her Doctor had recommended by age two, so I came up with what I thought was the perfect plan to anticipate saying goodbye to toe-toe.

It just so happened that a fellow Ethiopian family was going to be bringing their baby son, Luca home sometime in February.  Emme and I started having discussions in November about how, “Baby Luca is coming home from Ethiopia, and he is going to need a toe-toe, because he is a baby..and you are a big girl, big girls don’t need toe-toe’s, but babies do.”  We would have this conversation every night, and slowly I could see that Emme was understanding what was going to happen.  I was so proud of myself, and felt like such a good Mommy.  In my mind it played out exactly as I hope transitions in life will be for Emme.  Me by her side, using love and logic.  YEAH RIGHT!!!  Life had another plan.

Saturday evening, Emme was just finishing up coloring, and got VERY excited when Daddy suggested getting the play dough out.  She ran to get the cookie cutters & rolling pin out of the cupboard, and was running to her child size table when….Crash!!  She fell & she fell hard.  Mike was right behind her, so he saw the whole thing, I was in the kitchen and the moment she hit, my heart SUNK!  All I could hear was Mike saying, “She hurt, she is hurt bad!!”  We both ran to her and scooped her up.  We could see that she had cut her top lip, just inside from where her lips meet in her mouth.  After a moment of chaos, we got the pediatrician’s office on the phone, and luckily they were able to get us in right away.  We did, and thank god, she did not need any stitches & her teeth were fine.

We came home that evening and put her to bed, but when she woke up in the morning, we could see that her mouth had started bleeding again.  We cleaned her up, but after nap time, it was the same thing.  It was obvious to us that the toe-toe was preventing her cut from scabbing over. 

So we made a decision, it was time to say goodbye to toe-toe.  So all afternoon we talked about how Dr. Wolmouth had called, and said that the toe-toe was bad for her big owie, and that she could not have it anymore.  (OK, that was a little white lie, but I see it smaller than Santa or the Easter Bunny.)

So as we got closer to bedtime, we prepared for what we were sure was going to be a rough night.  I was already giving myself positive feedback.  Mike and I were already saying to each other, “It’s going to be tough, but it is the best thing for her.”, and “It will not start to heal while she is still sucking on that thing.”  So we were ready when bedtime came with our tough parenting armor on.  We did our normal bedtime routine, made sure we put on her favorite jammies, and especially made sure she had bunny, her nighttime snuggly.  We gave her big kisses and hugs, and yelled “LOVE YOU!”, as we closed her door like we do every night.  Then we held our breath for what was to come………

Except…it did not.  We listened on the monitor, as she quietly played with her Bunny, and eventually fell asleep.  My strong little girl handled the saying good-bye of toe-toe like a little trooper.

So this afternoon, as I just put her down for her nap, again without toe-toe, I am thinking, “Thank you for the Valentine Surprise, Love Bug.”

Enjoy the pics of her baking her first Valentine Cake.  just ignore the big ol’ fat lip and the mean table her gave it to her. 😦

 Heart Hair

1 comment February 14, 2011






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