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Last winter I expected Zoé to get sick. I imagined that going from African dry, hot days and cold, dry nights to a typical European winter of dry/wet/windy days and freezing nights would be a real shock for a 6 months’ old system.

So we built up our outings from a short 5 min walk on 01.01.12 to a longer 10 min walk on 02.01.12 etc. Once, she seemed to take it well, we started to go to play groups so she could gradually come in contact with Europa’s typical winter viruses and diseases. She hardly got a cold during the whole of last winter.

Now, comes winter 2012-2013 and she has gotten one thing after the other. It first started with a mild fever for a day or two that was really easy to control and her behaving rather normal. So I did not think much of it but there was this strange urine smell every time I would change her nappy. Because, we were to have her 18 months pead visit, I got an appointment only to find out she had a urinary tract infection, that already found its way up the kidneys (pyro-nephritis)…. bad, dangerous stuff. What I thought would be a short routine visit turned out to be a full and intense afternoon of urine samples, blood samples, emergency ultrasounds and 2 weeks of strong antibiotics. The strong meds cured the infection but also made her more “unwell” than the disease itself. Less energy, no appetite, clingy etc.

Then, a week after, we left to visit my family in law for Hanukkah for a week. DH felt sick as he woke up the first morning. 4 days flu. Zoé didn’t seem to get it (she behaved like sick because of the antibiotics anyways but did not develop fever etc like DH). I felt flu-ish-bad for 1 day.

She stops the antibiotics, eats a bit better. … We come back to Switzerland and 2 nights later she feels burning hot. I measure her fever: 35.9°C. “The thermometer must be broken” I thought. The next day she behaves like her usual self so I forget everything about fixing or buying a new thermometer until the following night, when she feels burning hot again (I of course feel very irresponsible). Comes Saturday morning with the resolution to go to the chemist and have a) this fairly new and very expensive ear-thermometer fixed and b) a real measure of her temperature. Chemist lady did not want to change the thermometer (still under guarantee) and comes up with a bullsh*t story that because Zoé’s left ear measures 38.2°C and the right ear only 37.0°C, said (broken) thermometer is in perfect working condition but that the poor child probably has an ear infection and that we should quickly leave her store, (with broken device) and speed up to the emergency room instead of wasting time doubting the quality of her (bad) merchandise. Guess what ? Not only did we do exactly that, we also bought a new, even more expensive, digital frontal thermometer !!! (Not only feeling irresponsible but now also over-emotional)

We arrive at the pead that stood in that Saturday and of course, we tell him, that our daughter probably has an ear infection. He measures her fever: 39.2°C. There goes the Chemist’s theory on the thermometer not being broken. He checks, scrapes and confirms that she not only has 1 ear infection, but a double ear infection. There goes the Chemist’s theory on hot ear = infected ear. A new course of antibiotics, firm resolution to never, EVER go to that chemist again but happy that her bullsh*t urged us to the Doc, we come home, try to make our now burning hot and miserable toddler feel a bit better. We give her the first (huge) dose of antibiotics that, judging by the look on her face, seems to taste very bitter. We push, push and push the substance inside her miserable (full of little cracks due to a candida infection that flares up under (previous) antibiotic treatment and weak immunity) little mouth, promising that it is good for her and that she will feel better (I, now feeling, not only irresponsible, very-over-emotional but mostly and plainly : “a lyer”…..).

She gets better. We relax. For. 24. hours.

After that, she vomits her antibiotics. She is unable to calm down (read wired) till 23:30 at night and fever slowly but surely surging up to 41°C at Christmas Night. She was anxious. Chanting a mantra. Boiling. Contracting her little fists in cramp-like movements. I was terrified especially when the fever did not go down despite the panadols, ibuprofens etc that we would give her, every 4 hours. While my DH called the hospital’s emergency, I opened her PJ’s, the window, cooled her hands and feet with cool cloth, prayed that the fever would go down …. especially when all we could hear on the telephone’s other end sounded like : “all our lines are actually occupied…” !! Occupied, on Christmas Night ?!

After 30 or 45 min, the fever started to subside to a “stable” 39.5°C…..

We got to the Clinic where, lucky us, our usual Pead was on duty on Christmas Day. He changed her meds, gave her penicillin and was worried she had a beginning pneumonia cause the strangle whistle like sounds she made when breathing. He asked us, to update him in 24 hours.

1 hour after giving her the penicillin, things were looking much better. She was not her usual self, but more playful and her fever was down. We update the Pead 24 hours after and he told us to continue the treatment for another week.

Things looked like sorted. We relax. For. 24. hours.

Fever rising again. Climbing to 39.5°C. We go back to the Pead. Make X-ray of her longs. Take a blood sample and a sample of the mucus in her noose.
X-ray shows that her longs are ok. Mucus shows that she now (also?) has the flu. We stop penicillin. Go home. Be sick. Keep her fever in control. I now also got flu. We slept. And sweated. And drunk water. And slept. And got better. Together.

This experience left me wondering:

1) is this how young children make their anti-bodies ? would it then not be better to give them less strong doses of antibiotics to stimulate their own bodies to “do the job” and create strong immunity ?

2) it all happened exactly 1 year after we met/came home. could her body now finally relax and let her guard down ? is it a way her body expresses trauma that could be associated with abandonment/adoption/radical change ?

Would love to read your opinions, experiences and views …. Please share.


I love to hear the sound of  those little feet walking, exploring, running after the cat.


is the one she uses to call me : “Mamma”.

the first time the sound reached my ears, I thought I had imagined it or that it was just an unintentional “mammmma-mmmmamaa-mmammma” sound. but when zoé repeated it in context, i knew we had reached. not reaching a final destination but that we reached each other. it felt like a long and lonely journey had finally ended and a new one has started. one we are walking together. sometimes i lead her and often times she shows me the way.

being called mamma may feel so obvious for many but for me it feels like a blessing, like a sacred mantra that reminds me to surrender to God and the Universe. i do not know what it must feel for her to have a mamma ? most important is that she knows she has someone she can call mamma.

it started a month ago, when zoé came down with a cold. we spent a couple of difficult nights together and at the same time, it is in those challenges that closeness grows. being a little one’s “everything” is a nice feeling; it gives instant purpose to one’s existence and it is flattering to be so much desired. but it is also a HUGE responsibility. a great challenge. day-after-night-after-day-day-in-and-night-out, her call for mamma at any time, has to be answered as good as can be. … and what if i fail to provide security and love and care and respect and at the same time, i know, i un-avoidably fail to provide. i guess in that margin between failure and perfection is a warm, authentic and safe place where we grow to become ourselves, where we get a chance to pass on that love we have received when we too believed our main care giver was our “everything”.  FRom that place, I thank you my dear mother for all what you have given me when you were still alive, and because today, I pass it on to zoé, you remain alive, through me in her.




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 ?

sorry for the long absence. motherhood is overwhelming but that is the subject of a separate blog entry or a few and probably a few more  ….

i started this blog when we were already well on our way to adopt a baby from Ethiopia and even if this blog contains many flashbacks and reflections about infertility, i feel it is somehow more logical to develop a bit about how our adoption went. I mean not the paperwork part but in the real sense of the verb: to adopt = to make something your own.

you may remember that we had to pass 2 court dates. well by the 1st december, we really got nervous because we did not hear anything from our intermediary despite our repeated e-mails, so we decided to call her. She told us, that our case was actually passing in Court the next day, 2nd of December, exactly the day my husband and me met 17 years ago ! So when you realize that I had been wanting to start a family with that man, 17 years ago, you can have an idea of how much was a stake and consequently how nervous I was till we got confirmation that we passed Court. We then decided that we would leave for Ethiopia and meet our girl ASAP, it would be important at a later stage to be able to tell her that we went to see her as soon as we were legally entitled to and that we did not leave her in the orphanage for a minute longer than necessary.

Thanks to a very nice management and work ethics at my working place, I was able to leave on a very short notice.

During that weekend, we packed our bags 4 times so as not to exceed the allowed limit. Our hearts, they felt so light.
A dear friend with her 2 children drove us to the airport on Sunday December 4. We were supposed to fly by night and reach Addis Ababa Monday morning. We were longing to just get there.

Unfortunately our flight to addis was delayed and we had to stay the night over in Frankfurt. By Monday 5 December around 11 at night we reached Addis and met the Director of the orphanage who came to welcome us at the airport. To our delight she offered we drive straight to the orphanage and meet our baby. We entered the room with 20 babies, 20 sleeping beauties all waiting for their parents to come, kiss them to start their new life. We were shown to a little bed in the corner of the room. Zoé was sleeping peacefully. I touched her gently. Her hands felt really soft her palms like a rare and delicate silk, interweaving dreams and reality.

we got to hold her for about an hour and we then left. It felt so unreal and at the same time even more weird to put her back into her little orphan crib and leave her. we spent the whole of the next day and every day till we passed our second court appointment, with her at the orphanage. getting to know her, her habits, we changed her, fed her, bathed her, put her to sleep, … and she put us to sleep as well….

We have really been blessed during our journey in Ethiopia. A friend just let us stay in her house even though she herself was away for a couple of months. In the evenings we would go back to our friend’s house and organize our room to accommodate our baby. since we had to leave a lot of stuff behind not to pay overweight on luggage, we bought a lot of things in addis and the orphanage also let us use a lot of their baby stuff. we also got to use zoé’s crib which we hoped would help her make the transition easier at night. By 15 December we confirmed in front of the judge that we accepted zoé to be our daughter and that we understood that this decision is forever and irrevocable. We took her “home” away from our “real home” and put her to sleep in her little crib, as close as possible to our bed. At night, you just never know, our dream may have been be snatched away. … By 30 December we obtained Zoé’s passport, her exit visa out of Ethiopia and entry visa into Switzerland where we landed on the 31. Right in time to start 2012 as a family of 3. Carrying less luggage, a tired baby-girl and a strong desire to be able to soon repeat this wonderful experience for a sibling.

Everything is going really well.

We love our girl and it is a beautiful experience to be here in Ethiopia with her. The orphanage she is in (till tomorrow, when we will pass the final Court) is doing a really good job !!

We do not have regular Internet connection so I cannot update my blog too much or send pictures.

Love you but leave you (till better connection)



We passed Court!! Leaving ASAP, maybe Sunday …. in the meantime :