What We Sent, What it Meant. Part II-One Voice


Thirty-four dollars, and ninety-nine cents. This may be the best money we ever spent. On the advice of this mom we sent a voice recorder to Meazi. We also purchased and sent one to Melese, but I don't think his was ever used.

We filled Meazi's recorder with songs, stories, and sounds from our home. Of course we were pronouncing her name wrong during the whole recording process, but I think she will eventually forgive us for that. This voice recorder was the single most important item that we sent ahead of time to Meazi.

I had wondered if the nannies at the orphanage would have the time to find it, give it to her, and show her how to use it. I thought it was a long shot, and that surely the staff had more pressing things to take care of at a very busy care center. I thought about how every single Ethiopian person that I know loves the singer Gigi. I thought that if I put a Gigi song on the recording, it would definitely get played.

It was played. And played again. I don't think I can convey how useful this small item became when we actually got to Ethiopia.

Meazi was afraid. Wouldn't you be if these two people came to take you home with them? I had asked the nannies for the care package back. Our agency did a great job with the transition period for the children. You'd see them briefly the first couple of days, and eventually they would spend more time with you. In the beginning, when Meazi and Melese started coming back to the guest house with us, Meazi would cling to that recorder. She would fast-forward, rewind, and flip the tape over to the other side. I would hear my own voice reading a story, or mispronouncing her name. She would be holding it up to hear ear, eyes wide, staring at me, trying to put the voice to my face. She did it with Steven's voice too. It was as if she was confirming what the social workers and nannies had been telling her; these people are your adoptive parents.

Meazi was terrified the night we took her into custody. The day, although celebratory in some ways, was one of the saddest days of my whole life, and I am sure it was one of the scariest days of her whole life. It is why we will never celebrate it as a "Gotcha" day, not ever.

She kept listening to the recorder. She walked around our small guest room listening to it over and over, the metal up against her ear.

It played the Gigi song. I chimed in, "To the one God we all have, to the one God we all love...." She looked at me. She couldn't believe that I knew the words. She smiled. When we got to the "Sing, sing" part, we sang together, she in a very soft breathy voice, (a voice that she sometimes uses now and will always be an indicator to me that she is feeling scared). From that point forward, we would always sing those parts together. Eventually, during that adoption week, she started to put the recorder down.

When something came up that was disconcerting to her, she would look at me with those gigantic eyes and start singing those words, waiting for me to sing with her. I would, she would smile, and then relax a little. It would happen several times a day. My mom had sent along a little "lovey" for Meazi, you know those mini-blanket things that kids sometimes use for security? It was soft and cute with a puppy head at the top. Meazi had no interest in it. This cold, metal, voice recorder was Meazi's lovey. The music on it was a universal language. It was our way to communicate when communication seemed impossible.

When we got home, Meazi had the recorder with her for the first few weeks, if not held up against her ear, then in very close proximity. She always knew where it was.

I played some Ethiopian videos for Meazi on Youtube when we got home. Almost every morning, for the first few weeks, Meazi would wake up and say, "Gigi mommy." Groggily we would make our way to my computer, go to the link, and play the song that helped us come together.

One of our first days home...

More recently...

Thirty-four dollars and ninety-nine cents.
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