Wednesday, August 25, 2010


We have been home for a solid month. It’s hard to believe that Duzi has been a Howerton for almost two. At the two-month mark, we’re still smack in the middle of big-time transition. Since I’m a writer and a dorky former English teacher, my favorite definition of the word “transition” is a literary one (Webster doesn’t have an adoption specific definition of the word – go figure). Webster says that one kind of transition is “a passage in a piece of writing that smoothly connects two topics or sections together.” In an essay or article, transitions glue your ideas together - they occupy the space between. This is the phase our family is in. We’re living in the realm of the between, We’re attempting to connect two separate life experiences, to create space to allow one song to segue into the next. I have no idea how long transition officially lasts and I am unsure what the next song sounds like but we’re content to hang out in the middle for now.

When I look back on our first weeks together, the video in my mind plays back the awkward interactions of strangers -- eager parents and a reluctant, shy little boy all trying their best to find common ground and understand each other’s accents. We were all so polite and nervous. What’s crazy, though, is that during those first days, I was absolutely certain that bonding was going quite well, that the authors of the countless books on attachment would be impressed with our progress. I visualized the adoption experts giving me a gold star on my Official Adoptive Parenting Chart. I really like gold stars.

The memories of our initial weeks together are not negative – not at all. They mark the precious, exciting, emotional beginning of our life as a family of five and I will cherish them forever. But, now I can say, with 2 months of adoptive parenting under my belt, that things have gotten SO MUCH BETTER.

We’re no longer strangers. We have a foundation (one that is still a work in progress) and he trusts us. I know the things that make him tired, the foods he doesn’t like, what he does when his ears are bothering him, the face he makes when he’s telling a whopper, that he likes to wear pants in the 90 degree heat, and that he really, really loves French fries. Things moms know about their kids. And, he knows things about me. Things sons know about their moms. He knows that the morning is not my most glamorous time. He knows that if he grins really big, I will likely not give him a time out for taking the Hot Wheel from his brother.

In the beginning, he did not want Mike or I to snuggle him at bedtime or touch him very much at all. He didn’t know us and here we were giving him baths, trying to tuck him in to bed, and telling him to share toys. If someone suddenly interjected themselves into my life and started bossing me around, I don’t think I’d, you know, take it well. Now, though, Duzi depends on us for very long snuggles at bedtime and his favorite place to be during the day is in one of our laps. And, he doesn’t wipe our kisses off – well, actually, he only does when he wants to be chased.

If in just two months, my love for this child has grown this exponentially, then I am eager to see what happens in the next 6, 12, or 18 months. Let me be clear, things haven’t necessarily gotten easier, just more familiar and real. I mean, really, is parenting ever easy? Is it ever just a walk in the park? My oldest is 10 and I don’t think I have ever uttered the sentence, “Parenting is just so easy.” We face challenges on a daily basis with all three of our kids.

In spite of challenges, we’re all making progress. When I ask Duzi, “Who loves you?”, he points at me with an emphatic grin and then recites, “And Daddy, and Alex, and Caleb, and Scoutie (our dog)……and God.” I always add that his other family at Ithemba Lethu, the incredible children’s home where he lived for 3 years, also loves him.

When I ask him, “How much do I love you?” He says, “Bigger than the mountains and the sky.”

The exciting thing about transition is that it prepares the way for the next part of the essay. I can’t wait to read the next paragraph….


  1. I love this post.

    Like, a lot!


  2. Hey Guys.

    I'm sitting reading this with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. You got such a champ for a son. I met you at Glenridge when you guys were here to take Duzi home. So glad I discovered your blog, so I can keep up to date on Duzi's life.

    Take care and thank you for changing a little man's life forever.

    God bless


    PS. Duz might remember me :)

  3. That was inspiring. You gave a genuine and honest description of what it is like bringing a child into you life who just happened to have been born from a different person.


  4. Glad I stumbled on your blog=from someone that went from your blog to mine! I'm definitely linking you.... :)
    Have a blessed weekend.


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