Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Things We (Well...I) Obsess About

Recently, it emerged on the yahoo adoption forum that I'm part of that many prospective parents worry about what shoe size to bring to Ethiopia for their child(ren) when they travel for the second time, to pick up their children.  Turns out some parents even lose sleep over this issue.

One of those parents would be me.  Not having even met our Ethiopian-born children yet, I have worried for months about what size of shoes I would eventually bring for them to wear home.  I have dreamed of shoe-less children walking the streets of Addis beside me; have envisioned boot-less children trudging through the winter snows after our arrival back in Canada (which is totally unrealistic as the snow will be long gone by the time they actually get here); have seen in my mind's eye children with permanently stunted feet because of the ill-fitting shoes their new mother put onto them.  Oh the horrors.

I have actually lost sleep on this issue.  How silly is that??!!

In particular over the last few weeks, as I try to anticipate and prepare for every possible aspect of our trip (another impossibility, I know!), I've been quietly calculating how to get a foot measurement from our children when we finally meet them, pre-court.  I've added a tape measure to our list of things to be packed, and have had actual, ludicrous thought processes like the following:

I envision myself sitting on the orphanage floor in a room full of children (including my own).
We're talking and singing and playing with whatever they'd like to play with.
My brain is working fast, determined to get those darn foot measurements.
I start to sing some silly song about feet, and take off my shoes.
The children mime me, so that (to the dismay of their caregivers) they all start taking their shoes off, too.
I sing away, a slightly crazed edge to my voice, a desperate look in my eye.
I take out the tape measure I've had tucked up my sleeve until this moment of truth (here, I make a mental note to self that I need to wear long sleeves to the orphanage).
While I sing, I measure the length of my own foot, giggling a little (fits with the slightly crazed theme) as my foot gets tickled by the tape measure.
The children surrounding me want their feet measured now, too. Yes, victory is within my grasp.
I start to measure feet, inwardly a little half-hearted until it is my son, my daughter, sitting in front of me.
Finally, when faced with the most precious of little feet, I take an extra second to measure more carefully.
When I finally have those longed-for, dreamt-about numbers, I yell them out loud to Geoff, who is deafened as he sits directly beside me, pen now in hand (which he's taken from his sleeve) and poised to scribble the numbers down on the palm of his hand.

At last, I can relax, I think in my dream.  I have them.  They are saved.  My children shall not be the shoe-maker's children...they will be adequately shod.  I pump my fists into the air as the orphanage visit draws to an end.  I have accomplished my goal.

This, people, is the kind of drivel that fills my head during moments when I am supposed to be sleeping. For anyone out there who might have thought, at one time, that I have my act all together, may this be the final proof needed that, indeed, I do not!

Oh, and I should add that while this issue was being discussed on the yahoo forum, one brilliant woman, with a single phrase, completely ended the conversation for me.  With her words, I had that experience where the most obvious of solutions took all of the fire right out of me; kind of like a burst of the anxiety balloon.  She said, quite rightly, of course, that the transition house would simply let the children wear their crocs when they finally left the home to join our family.  Hmmm.  Oh yeah.  Right.  Duh.  Thanks Alicia.


  1. I am dying Laughing!!

  2. ah Ruth,
    This made me laugh!! I think we are all basket cases at this point in the journey, you should ask my husband about the hormonal freak I have been over the last 2 weeks, while packing...not good! and as for shoes, I was not sure about the size thing either, so I packed flip flops. I figured, even if they are too big, it won't really matter. Good luck packing and planning, at least there is so much to do, it takes your mind off thing a teensy bit!


  3. haha... Ruth, this made me laugh, only because I felt like I was reading about myself! I had almost exactly these thoughts.

    No need for the measuring tape or the little game. Post-court, when you meet them in the TH, it's as simple as this:
    Ruth: what size clothes and shoes are they wearing?
    Sister Hana: let me check. (Looks at clothing tags and bottoms of shoes.) They're in sizes __ and __.
    Ruth: okay, thanks.

    But let the voice of experience give you some advice: be sure to WRITE THE SIZES DOWN when you get back to the Guest House, instead of relying on your memory. Ask me how I know! lol!

    But seriously... you can also ask Imagine to give you their sizes in one of your monthly update numbers. And (this is what I'm planning) there are shoes for sale in Addis. No problem my friend! :)

  4. I worried about this too - I finally chose shoes I was pretty sure would fit.
    We ended up leaving with such haste that, as I searched through our suitcases for their shoes, I remembered very clearly where they were.

    Right in the foyer of our house.

    Luckily a family at the Weygoss had an enormous bag of crocs to donate and I found two pairs that would fit E and B.
    It was all for naught anyway. Eskedar wouldn't wear anything but the flipflops she got from the TH. She LOVED the socks we brought and would squeeze her socked feet into these flipflops every morning. It was rainy season but nothing would deter her. Bereket loved his new crocs thankfully.

    There were so many details I would stress over and all of them ended up being fine. :)

  5. Geoff just read my post and laughed. THen he said, with the same un-nerving simplicity that Alicia had, "well, if you're that worried, let's just trace their feet on a piece of cardboard!" Hmm. Yes, that would work, too. I am such an idiot, making things so much more complicated than they need to be!

    Wonder what my next obsession will be..maybe I'll go back to HAIR!


  6. He he he! Geoff had the same idea as me! In fact, I seem to remember a family received a foot tracing in one of their updates, so they could buy shoes...

    I am loving the excitement of your recent posts! I am living through you right now, getting excited right along with you! Thanks for sharing!!!


  7. haahaa! you dream like i do! lov eit!

  8. I was going to suggest the same things as Geoff & BCMommy ;)

  9. OMG, I can't believe you are saying this, cuz I could't think for part of last night worrying about this exact topic. When I was in E meeting Seth, I measured his foot with my hand, cuz it was on my mind then too. I'm so glad I did that, but worried how much he has grown now.


    P.S. I can't believe I am able to talk about him again...

  10. I am so glad you can talk about Seth, Laura! And plan!!

  11. How about playing some sort of game with them involving physical contact and then at some point make sure you get a foot against your arm/hand/whatever, whip a pen out of your long sleeve (or cleavage) and quickly mark the ends of said foot. Then measure the markings later. I worry like you :-) OR, do as others have said and bring something hopeful and buy there as needed!

  12. I so had all these fears - I worried all the way over none of Ade's clothes would fit him....

    So Ruth, to further ease your mind - you can buy shoes in Ethiopia!

    It's true! In fact you can buy almost anything you need there - I was simply shocked at all the stuff we could have gotten there...and it would have helped their economy!

    So sleep tight tonight my friend...not only can your kids wear the crocs home from the transition home but you can take them straight away if you want to get new shoes - try Bambi's or the Friendship mall.

  13. How about playing some sort of game with them involving physical contact and then at some point make sure you get a foot against your arm/hand/whatever, whip a pen out of your long sleeve (or cleavage) and quickly mark the ends of said foot. Then measure the markings later. I worry like you :-) OR, do as others have said and bring something hopeful and buy there as needed!