Tuesday, June 28

What is going well. . .

Sometimes you just need to go around the table and speak out what it going well.

Galeta has been home for 3 weeks now and all 7 of us are in the midst of major change, transition, adjusting, sacrificing. . .it has not been easy for any of us. Here's 6 of the 7 of us. . I was taking the picture. I love how everyone is connected. . touching. . holding hands.

So this evening we went around that table and each said what we were liking about the summer. We reminded each other that there were some good points to our summer days.

Here are our answers:

David: the pool, especially the fact that we now let him ride his bike up there by himself

Anna: she said David stole her answer. . she too likes the freedom of riding her bike up to the pool

Jonathan: He liked the thunder and rain. . which Rob pointed out was a good thing since he used to be so scared of the thunder. He also said he likes the painting we have been doing.

Brooke: playing with her friends at the pool and the fact that she and Anna get to homeschool Galeta and Jonathan

Galeta had a list of 4 things. We were amazed he understood the question. This is what he said:

"bike, pool, outside, hungry, oranges, bananas, raisins, all done"

It made me cry. He was saying he likes his new bike that is his very own (he no longer had to ride Jonathan's), the pool, going outside, and when he is hungry he got his choice of oranges, bananas, or raisins. All done meant he had nothing more to say and it was my turn.

Su: I hate to admit that it took me longer to come up with an answer than the kids. I was glad I was #6 and had a few minutes to think. I had 3 things on my list:

1. the older kids have really rallied and helped out tons with Galeta and Jonathan. . they take them outside to ride bikes, jump on trampoline, walk the neighbor's dog. Anna and Brooke homeschool Galeta and Jonathan teaching them their letters and sounds. . .even come up with lesson plans the night before. . like they had the boys flip thru magazines and cut out all the "G"s they found.

2. I was thankful for friends dropping off groceries and meals. . .giving me one less thing to think about. . .and a little adult interaction in the day.

3. I was thankful for the summer months where Rob is able to come home 30 min-hour earlier than usual. Making it until 5pm is a lot easier than making it til 6pm.

: I think we never got to him. . . by then I think Galeta was on his 2nd helping of dinner, J had spilled his water, and Anna and David were in need of a ride to youth group. . .and that is exactly why it is good to remember what is going well.

Friday, June 17

a sweet conversation I had in the airport. . .

On our flight home, we had a layover in Washington, home of many Ethiopian immigrants. There is even a section of DC called Little Ethiopia.

As Rob and Galeta were entering the airport bathroom, the worker asked, "Is he Ethiopian?" pointing to Galeta.

I smiled and said, "Yes, are you?"

She said "Yes." And then thanked me for adopting an older boy. She told me he was handsome and that he was lucky.

I stumbled over my words and told her, I thought I was the lucky one. That I could not believe I got to be his mom. And honestly, I was embarrassed by my response. Did she understand what I meant? Did she get my heart?

She continued by telling me that many of her friends killed themselves in Ethiopia because there was no food and killing themselves was better than dying a slow death of starvation. She said that is why so many Ethiopian have come here to DC.

She asked me if my boy's mom and dad were dead.

I said yes. She nodded as if to say, of course they are.

I told her adoption was not the ideal. That I wanted Galeta to be in Ethiopia with his mom and dad. And that sometimes the world was not fair. Again, I wondered did she get me? Not because she did not speak or understand English. . she did and spoke it very well. . .but did she really get that I loved this boy like my own flesh and blood.

She nodded. She said she knew well that life was not fair. She then asked why I would adopt a child that was not related to me. I was a little taken aback by the personal questions and began to think, "Where is Rob? He always knows just what to say, has the right words." I am so not a fast thinker.

But Rob was still in the bathroom with Galeta and so with tears in my eyes, I just told her the truth.

I told her because deep deep inside me. . .how could I say no to a kid who needed a mom and dad when I could give him that. I told her that Rob and I had a good marriage and promised to be together forever.

I told her because deep deep inside me. . .how could I say no to a kid who wanted to belong to brothers and sisters. . .who wanted to belong to a family. . . when I could give him that. I told her that I had 4 other children that were so excited for Galeta to come home.

I told her because deep deep inside me. . .how could I say no to a kid who needed a home when I have been blessed with a house that could easily hold one more.

I promised her that I would always love Galeta and always take care of him.

She asked me if I was a Christian.

I said yes, that is the real reason I can adopt this child. I told her that God gave me this love for this boy. Again. .wondering if I was speaking the right words. . oh, I was so nervous.

She asked what kind of Christian?

I hesitated knowing that this is where our different backgrounds might confuse us. So I simply said, "One that loves Jesus and wants to show His love to others."

She smiled. And at that point I think she got me. We were on the same page. We both knew that injustice is wrong. We both knew that all kids are made in the image of Our Creator. We both knew that we were put on this earth for more than our own pleasure.

I am sharing this story at:

where women are talking about The Practice of Faith.

Thursday, June 9

Tuesday, June 7

How It is Going. . .How He is Reacting. ..It's Been 3 Days

We've been home 3 days now. A family of 7 for 3 days.

All things considered, we are doing really well.

Galeta is a sweet boy. The first thing he did when we entered our home was unzip our suitcase and give each of his siblings a wrapped gift. These gifts of traditional Ethiopian clothes were from our adoption agency. Galeta also got his Ethiopian clothes out of the suitcase and put them on.

Galeta instructed Brooke on how to wear the scarf with her dress.

And then Galeta went outside to investigate the skateboards, bikes, and go carts he eyed when he walked up the porch stairs into the house. Yes, within an hour of being home, Galeta was whizzing down the hill. So much for not overstimulating him.

He will fit in just pefectly with the crazy Soutter kids (and Dad!)

Every morning after breakfast. . and Galeta is getting up sooo early (this morning it was 4am, guess he is still on Ethiopian time). . .he is outside riding fearlessly down the hill.

Our goal really was for a slow pace life. . a non stimulating environment. We had purged or boxed up so many items. But even without all the toys and decor. . .life with 4 siblings is very, very stimulating.

The kids adore Galeta and are constantly wanting to show him something or asking him a question or just simply trying to get his attention by repeating his name over and over again.

Last night we talked to the kids about not calling his name, but simply watching what he was doing and then joining him in that activity. If he is coloring, they are to color with him. . .not ask him if he wants to go outside or if he wants to play trains. If he is sitting on the couch, they are to sit with him.

I dropped David off at the pool last night. . just so he could have some time away from the chaos. And David told me, "I think we got the best kid, Mom. I really do. Galeta is so much fun to be around. And just think, in 6 months or so, when he knows English, he will be that much more fun!!" That made me smile.

Wrestling seems to be a universal boy thing. Yes, there are my 3 sons. Again, so much for not overstimulating Galeta.

And then Dad had to get in on the fun.

What else?

Galeta cries before naptime and bedtime. . from pure exhaustion? from being jetlagged? from being told to go to bed and he does not want to? from missing all that is familiar to him?? I am not quite sure. Probably a mix of it all.

And although my heart breaks to see tears run down his face, I am thankful. Thankful that he is showing emotion. Thankful that he is not numb. I know from all our adoption reading that this is a good sign.

And he also laughs easily.

He cannot be left alone. . .it is like having a 6 month old (who knows nothing), but a 6 month old with the physical capabilities of a 6 year old. I am thankful that David has stayed home from school the past 2 days. Gives me a little break.

But yesterday, David was mowing the neighbor's lawn. And Galeta watched him blow the grass off the driveway and the next thing I know, Galeta has the blower in his hand and is blowing the grass off our driveway. He is observant and smart. But cannot be left alone. He has already pushed the buttons of the dishwasher, stove, and stereo. He has already picked up the phone when it rings and said "hello".

Galeta is already learning English and can say all our names as well as:
come. toilet. shoes. I am thirsty. I am hungry.What it is? water. thank you. wash hands. Just today, he asked David, "Where is dog?". . cause David had left to walk the neighbor's dog. And when I served lunch, Galeta said, "Thank you Mom."

Rob has gotten pretty good at cooking Ethiopian food. We are thankful that we discovered that the Jerusalem Bakery next door to the Ethiopian restaurant here in Raleigh sells injera. And we discovered that injera freezes. Although, we discovered yesterday that Galeta likes fresh salsa with tortilla chips and hummus with crackers. He devours mangoes, bananas, and oranges. . .he has us all eating a little bit healthier.

He eats a lot. Because he does not know when his next meal is coming? Because food is so accessible? Because he really is hungry? He always clears his plate and often asks for more. He comes to me about every hour and half and says he is hungry. I right now am feeding him each time to communicate that I will take care of him. I am there to meet his needs.

This is definitely the hardest thing we have ever done and we are quite overwhelmed. There was no catching up from jetlag. There was hardly time to unpack and wash clothes with 5 kids longing for our attention. I have yet to get a shower. . only because I crave sleep more than clean hair and body. We are physically exhausted. And emotionally all over the place (me, not Rob, of course). I cry out hourly for strength and energy and wisdom and the control to not yell when J frustrates me or when Galeta makes a huge mess. And I keep reminding myself, to think big picture. .I envision what this boy is going to be like at 16. . .and I get tears of thankfulness and happiness in my eyes.

Our J is having the hardest time. All our kids are having to sacrifice for which we prepared them for. But J, being just 4 does not understand. He is used to being doted on by his 3 older siblings and now G is getting that attention. J screams and throws tantrums and cries often. He and G have already gotten into a fight while playing playdough and cars. But they also are the ones that play together the most often.

But you know, yesterday morning, Galeta grabbed my neck and kissed me. He initiated it, not me. Last night he crawled up in Rob's lap and put his head on his shoulder and stayed there for about 10 min while Rob rubbed his back. And it has only been 3 days. I think it is all going to work out just fine.

Monday, June 6

We Are Home!!

We landed in Raleigh at 1:34 on Saturday. . .after 27 hours of travel.

Travel went smoothly and we stayed safe and healthy. Most importantly we returned with Galeta. Galeta was so excited to get on that airplane. . .there are many stories to share. But 2 are:

1. On Friday, the day we were to leave, Galeta ran up to the guard of the guest house and told him that today was the day he was going to America.

2. In the airport, he saw another little girl that was obviously adopted and he went up to her and said in Amharic, "Do you know English yet? I already know a few words!!" (that is what the Ethiopian man behind us told us. . Galeta made the man giggle).

We spent most of the week hanging out at the Ethiopian guest house. It was very relaxing (no email or to-do list, no cooking or cleaning) and gave us many, many hours to bond with our new son.

Click here to see pictures of our reunion and read what our agency director wrote about our reunion (she just happened to be in Ethiopia when we were).

Thanks for all your emails. We will try to write a post tonight about how it is going and how Galeta is reacting so come back tomorrow.