It is freezing cold here in Europe. No wheather to go out with a baby, until really necessary.

So there they are lying on the sofa, my husband, daughter and cat, breathing at their very own rhythm, like motherhood I guess. I can not think of that moment I read about from other moms, where they suddenly felt their baby’s mother, for me it was more like a process. In fact, I felt like a became a mother while still trying to conceive. I remember my husband telling me ” you have really won your title of motherhood” after one of our many miscarriages. So, I do not know if other woman and man also feel that motherhood is something you have to “win” but when we arrived in Ethiopia, that same feeling came back again.

As soon as I got Zoé’s referral, something felt strangely familiar and yes, even before meeting her in real, I had no doubt that she had to be my daughter. It was as if all the struggles, doubts, and failed cycles endured for years suddenly became one big, obvious and plain fact. as if everything had to be the way it was. it was a powerfully positive feeling.

So we, arrived, in the orphanage, I took Zoé in my arms and everything felt very right but in front of the skilled nannies, think genuine “african mamas”, I understood I still had my stuff to learn. I mean, those endless, practical aspects of motherhood; the feeding, diapering, burping, dressing, undressing, bathing, carrying, worrying,  ….

It was an ambiguous feeling, something felt very right and familiar and something felt very foreign and awkward at the same time. Normally, I am rather withdrawn and in a new situation I tend to observe first and once I feel I know how to do, I’ll start doing. This time it was different, I felt I had to do before really knowing, perfectly, how to do. Something  told me, I had to take over, taking care of Zoé, even if my grasp was not firm and my gestures awkward, I had to “claim”. I guess, what I felt, was a bond between Zoé and her 2 personal nannies. Even though it is a very good thing that she benefited from personal care and attention, I felt this bond had to be broken first in order to start our mother-daughter relationship.

It was very trying. Dh and me both got sick. Imagine spending the whole day with 20 babies, all having diarrhea, coughing and running noses. Imaging, being in a foreign environment, speaking different languages, trying to take care of one baby as an unexperienced new mum and at the same time, having 2 or 3 babies, hanging on your legs, moaning and crying to be picked up, with eyes full of sadness, waiting, for their turn to have parents; to be carried around, be taken care of by unexperienced yet loving hands.

After a couple of days already, Zoé changed behavior, the withdrawn small baby we had first met a couple of days before now  started to make big conversation while we would spend time changing her. As if she was telling me with her happy “gagaa, dadadadaaaa” that she appreciated our presence and care. I guess from there our relationship started to grow. And as we started to bound, I could feel her nannies, letting go, knowing that there now was someone to take over their “role”. I must say that besides being very good at their profession they were also soulfully dedicated to their job. beautiful people.


After we passed our second court appointment and had zoé full-time with us, we would sometimes go back to the orphanage to buy more milk or to meet with other parents. Zoé would be on my arms, tucking her little face in my arms like a shy girl when her earlier care givers would try to make her smile. This would of course make me happy and confirm the emerging feelings, strong feelings, overwhelmingly strong feelings of mother love.

Motherhood has something very rewarding; it makes you run all day and walk around a big part of the night, but just that one smile and all feels so very right. Oddly enough that same thing called motherhood can at other times make you feel the most stupid and inadequate person on earth, but then just that one smile or that one worried look in her eye when i go out of her sight is reassuring each others hearts.

So far, i really love being zoé’s mum, every evening i think back about the day we spent together and it makes me smile. a happy smile, and with a light heart i realize i love her even more than the day before, and marvel at how much more this love can grow ?