The First 30 Days
I realized that I sort of left this blog hanging in limbo when a co-worker approached me and gingerly asked if Biruk made it home. She had been following the blog – but I guess I never actually said that we made it home.
Well we did.
We were welcomed [back] to America on Tuesday April 3rd. We had a wonderful reception at the airport and were thrilled to be reunited with family and friends. When we first arrived home, the kids gave Biruk a tour of the house and showed him his room. It was a wonderful moment – watching all four of our kids run around the house together. The following day, Biruk seemed to touch and play with every.single.thing. in our home. I think he was definitely overstimulated.
Everyone seems to wonder about Biruk’s reaction to things. Here are some highlights from his first 30 days in America.
- After our first flight from Ethiopia to Germany I asked him what he thought about flying and he said, “it’s so easy”.
- The first trip to the grocery store was no big deal, but he stopped in his tracks the first time he saw a squirrel. “What’s that?!”
- I was doing some banking at my credit union in Walmart and behind me there was a display of Doritos. Biruk said he wanted some and I told him that was fine – he could get some. He walked over to the Doritos, grabbed a bag and handed it to the bank teller. I had to explain that the registers were elsewhere.
- Biruk took great pleasure in keeping track of my husband and I using an app to find lost iphones – he could see where we were at all times based on our iphones…until he accidentally deleted everything on my iphone, my husband’s iphone, and our ipads. Oops.
- One night we had hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill with corn on the cob. As I handed Biruk his plate, he looked at me and said, “Mom, is this Chinese food?”.
- After his first bite of a McDonalds cheeseburger he said, “yummmmmy”.
- After his first bite of a Whoopie Pie, he said, “Wow – where do you get these?”
- He hates American jeans. He says they have no fashion. After touring the local high school he said, “I guess I will have to wear stupid American jeans”.
These past weeks have been filled with smiles. There is a lot of teaching and learning taking place in our house these days. I had to deliberately teach him how to make a sandwich for his lunch – like step by step (here is where we keep the meat, here is the bread, here is the mayo, this needs to go in the refrigerator overnight). Of course he had no idea if he liked ham or roast beef, so he had to taste them both. He learned quickly and now makes himself sandwiches whenever he wants. Almost everything is like that. How to use the toaster, how to open the garage door, how to use the remote control (I still haven’t mastered that one), how to tell time, use money, what a check means, which bus to take, what to wear to school, when to pack a jacket, how to use a combination lock, etc.
Even though Biruk has been studying English for 2 years, language has been his biggest challenge – and that’s just going to take time. He started school last week and he has been warmly received by his peers and teachers. One teacher told me that the kids all flocked to sit next to him. Since it’s late in the school year, he’s just focusing on conversational English and getting up to speed in math. The school has been great in terms of designing a special curriculum for him. He already has friends at school and at church. He also keeps in touch with boys from his former orphanage who have been adopted in the US, and friends who still live in Ethiopia.
Overall, our first 30 days together have been great. Blissful. He is an absolute joy. My husband and I are over-the-moon in love with him. I think our transition has been so smooth because he has already been our son for several years – so much of the trust and bonding was already in place. We are all just really happy that he’s finally home. When Biruk is asked what he likes best about America he says, “being with my family”. We couldn’t agree more.