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09/26/2006

How to make an Ethiopian quilt

Hey, you know how I make quilts?  And sometimes give them away to benefit friends in need of family-building help?

Another friend, another quilt.

Beth tells her own story far more vividly than I could.  Unfortunately, its beginning is familiar to many of us.  It's the end that's so exciting.

Though my husband and I hadn't used birth control since our second anniversary, it wasn't until our 11th year of marriage that we began to suspect that all those tales of getting pregnant after one wild ride in the backseat of a car might not be entirely true. The usual hellish battery of fertility testing pegged us as members of the elite club known as "Cause of Infertility: Unknown."  I underwent cycle after cycle of drugs injected in various public places — restaurant restrooms, mall parking lots, coat closets at a class reunion, etc. — and the wild emotions that went along: weeklong bouts of hysterical crying, murderous rage toward dust balls on the floor, and hours of staring blankly into the mirror wondering why I was apparently the only infertile woman in the universe.

Blowfish Finally, after several cycles of overreacting to the drugs, blowing up like a balloon — seriously, I looked very much like a giant frightened blowfish — and selling nearly everything we owned to pay for the privilege, we reached the summit of Everest and got pregnant. We were overjoyed.  Our families thanked God for our blessing.  We planned for a nursery and baby clothes and toys.  My mom crocheted a wonderfully soft and lovely blanket and bought us a box of books and planners on pregnancy and babies. At Christmastime during the required ultrasound, when we expected to see a tiny body replacing the little blinking heartbeat we’d seen in the last ultrasound, our technician began to cry.  Our baby had disappeared.  At 10 weeks, she'd just thrown in the towel and gone back from whence she came without so much as a how-do-you-do.

Since the whole thing didn't seem real, we didn’t consider a D&C and it wasn’t strongly suggested. I now know what it feels like to give birth: I did it on the bathroom floor the day after New Year's at 3 in the morning alone.  The pain, both physical and emotional, that wracked me that night lives in me even now, and it's far too easy to let it drift to the surface.  So instead I'll tell you how my hell turned into a sparkling joyous Heaven.

About 8 months after that torturous night, my husband and I went to an informational meeting at a local adoption agency. They had just begun a program in Ethiopia and it immediately called to us. I feel as if someone was shouting to us that our baby had been born somewhere else. We started the process, decided we’d be open to a "waiting child" (one with mild challenges or treatable defects), and began the wait. The day after New Year's in 2005, we received a picture of a waiting child in Ethiopia, a sad-looking little girl of 3 years. We knew immediately she was ours.

We borrowed and scraped, sold everything again, and flew to Ethiopia in April of that year. We drove up to the children’s home and got out.  Right away a tiny body hurled itself across the yard screaming, "Mommy and Daddy!"  I can't even think of that moment when our daughter leaped into our arms without crying. She is our gift and our truest blessing. She brings light and joy to the darkest corners. She is special. She is ours and we are hers forever. I never dreamed that such contentment and love and sheer dancing-in-the-sunshine joy was possible, but I am drunk with it every day.

We've also adopted her birth family as a branch of our own and sponsored her little sister (about 19 months old now) to ensure her health and well-being hoping that we could always know where she was for our daughter. Her family loves our daughter with all their hearts.

In March of this year we received a letter from our daughter's beloved grandmother asking us to take her other granddaughter, our daughter's sister. Life expectancy in Ethiopia is tragically only 59 years, and as she has been seriously ill and cannot afford to feed even herself despite the funds we send, she knows that she is nearing the end of her life. She explained that she knew from the stacks of photos we sent that her older granddaughter is happy and loved, and she wanted that for her baby granddaughter as well. How could we refuse?

After weeks of soul-searching and consideration of just how far into debt we could go and still see the light of day, we decided to just go for it. Yet again, we’ve sold everything we can and worked double time to afford it, and I hope to travel next month (October) to bring our little daughter home to her sister.  We're in love with our baby already.

The chance for Beth's first daughter to be raised with her sister, a privilege lost to so many adopted children, is just too precious to waste.  I want to help.

The quilt I'm making is well underway.  The blocks for the top are more than halfway complete.  My photographic ineptitude has rendered them duller looking than they actually are, but you should get the general idea:

Block 01 Block 02 Block 03 Block 04 Block 05 Block 06
Block 07 Block 08 Block 11 Block 12
Block 13 Block 18
Block 19 Block 24
Block 25 Block 26 Block 29 Block 30
Block 31 Block 32 Block 33 Block 34 Block 35 Block 36

(The pattern, called Feathered Goose, is by Judy Niemeyer, who has graciously given permission for me to use it for this raffle.)

I have been trying to maintain a pace of making one block a day, but I've found that to be a little ambitious since each block takes approximately 3 hours.  So let's say four blocks a week...carry the six, divide by nine, stick a needle in my belly, read Curious George and the Godforsaken Bunnies yet again...

Oh, hell, I don't know when it will be finished.  But I am working on it steadily, and will continue to do so, and will post regular updates as warranted.

If you'd like to enter to win it, and to help two Ethiopian sisters reunite, you can enter here.  Chances will go for $5 each.  This is my last giveaway, so I thank you that much more sincerely for being a part of this.

Update: After reaching the first campaign's goal of $3,000 early Wednesday afternoon, I've opened a new campaign.  Your generosity is magnificent!

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