And we’re off

9 Aug

“Mami, do you think I’m from another planet?”

“No, Honey. I think you’re from this planet.”

“I’m really strong.”

“Yes, you are. You’re very strong.” In our last house, she had to open and close the huge, heavy sliding glass door for all her friends when they came over. No one but her could make it budge. She’s carried my computer bag, our suitcases, giant chairs across the living room. I am not just pumping up her self-esteem. She is strong.

“Stronger than my friends.”

These days, she gives everything that comparative PUNCH. I don’t know how to break her of the habit, and I wrack my brain, trying to remember if I passed through a similar stage. Am I passing through it even now?

“And I’m short.”

“Just wait ’til we go to Guatemala, Sweetheart. We’ll see a lot of people your size.” She is suddenly quiet, pondering this. My nine year-old. She knows this; she’s heard it, but she may not believe it.

Because this is how she looked the last time we were in Guatemala — when we met each other for the first time — this is how she looked when we left:

Miss E 2004

And this is how she looks now:

Miss E 2013

What she knows about her birth country is what she’s read in books. Or heard from the people around her, the people who love her, the people who live here. In the United States.

But this Wednesday, we get on a plane – Kelly, Grace, Miss E, and Me – for a family trip to Guatemala. We are staying by Lake Atitlan, one of the most beautiful places in the world. She will finally have context, sense memory, her own impressions of this place: Where she was born, where blood relatives live, this place with people who look (who feel? who think? who act?) like her.

We will not meet her birth family. Not this time. Not until later, and only then if it’s something she wants.

Instead – together – we will learn the place a little, and feel the lake breeze, and mix with people who’ve lived there all their lives, and some who (like us) are visiting. We will drink coffee and walk and play games with each other at night sometimes. We will see people my daughter’s size, and we will talk – long conversations in small bits – while we are there.

We will share. Privately. Publicly. Slowly, I expect, when we come back home.

Or maybe the words will come all in a rush.

Each of us in our own time.

Filling in detail. Adding color.

Finding our footing, our phrasing, and our place as we go.

Miss E 2013 tree

The simple truth is: We don’t yet know.


14 Responses to “And we’re off”

  1. Shannon August 9, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    Have a great time, my friend. I can’t wait to hear about it upon your return.

    • RoiAnn August 11, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Thank you 🙂 I look forward to sharing, too!

  2. Deborah Fletcher August 9, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Love you, Roi. Very excited for you all! xo

    – Deborah Fletcher C 312.961.8048 P 312.421.2530

    Sent from my iPhone

    • RoiAnn August 11, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Me, too! Much love.

  3. Lindsay August 9, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Beautiful. I am so glad you are able to give your daughter this experience. I am sure she will treasure it, now and always.

    • RoiAnn August 11, 2013 at 10:14 am #

      Thank you, Lindsay. This is my hope, too.

  4. Jenna Hatfield August 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    This post was an emotional one for me. I’m a birth mother, and I so love that you are going to Guatemala just because.

    Sending you all the love and light on your trip. Enjoy it to the fullest.

    • RoiAnn August 11, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      Thank you, Jenna. I imagine that placing a child for adoption must be one of the most difficult and heartbreaking decisions a parent can make, and every day, I appreciate the opportunities my daughter was given when her birth mom made this choice. At the same time, I worry and wonder for her and send love and light in her direction, as well.

      Thank you for stopping by, for commenting here, and for the link back to this post. I am glad to know something here resonated with you.

      Wishing you the very best.

  5. Rachael August 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    Hope your trip will be wonderful for all of you! Sending you great big hugs for each and everyone! Hope you have a safe and happy trip.

    • RoiAnn August 11, 2013 at 10:14 am #

      Hugs back atcha! Thank you 🙂

  6. debweeks August 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    I’m so happy for you and jealous at the same time.

    We’ve been back to Guatemala twice since bringing our daughter home back in 2008. We have a wonderful connection with her foster family and have traveled to many parts of the country with them.

    On our visit there last year, we did meet her birth mom. We also travelled to Panajachel, Chichicastengo and Monterrico on that visit. Such wonderful memories and we hope to get back there in the next 1-2 years.

    Have a wonderful trip! I can’t wait to hear all about the trip and hope it’s an awesome experience for all of you, especially your daughter.

    • RoiAnn August 12, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Thank you, Deb, and how wonderful that you’ve connected so well with her foster family! Give me a shout with any must-sees in or near Pana!

      I’ve been enjoying your blog bits on happiness.

      Take care.

      • debweeks August 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

        We are ‘very’ fortunate to have such a close relationship with our daughter’s foster family and has been so good for our daughter.

        We were only in Pana two nights and spent the majority of that time at the pool 🙂 The highlight for us was visiting all the vendors up and down the streets. Be prepared to negotiate price.

        The food was wonderful of course. One of our favorite places was Lorale.

        The two things I had hoped to do while there was take a boat ride on Lake Atitlan to see some of the other villages around the lake and visit Mayan Families.

        Ultimately, our goal is to create happy, lasting memories for our family, especially our daughter.

        Since before we brought each of our girls home, we began to establish relationships that would ensure both our girls had connections to their birth countries. We just got back from MOGUATE where 46 Guatemala adoptive families gathered for a weekend of fun. 56 children from Guatemala ranging in age from 5 – 15 years old all together in one place. It’s not the same as visiting Guatemala, but it allows our children to see that they aren’t so different and that our family is very similar to many other families.

        I could share more and actually have some blog posts about our visit last year. I don’t want to take up more comment space, so if you’re interested in chatting about all of this more, please let me know.


  1. Stop, Drop and Blog – This Week: Instaweek, Links, and Elsewhere - August 10, 2013

    […] And We’re Off by Are You the Babysitter? — Together, mother and daughter, head to Guatemala — her daughter’s birth country. I felt goosebumps and tingles, as a birth mother, as a mother, as a lover of travel and culture and bigger understandings. I hope they have the Best. Trip. Ever. […]

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