garish white fluorescent lights flicker off. on. off again. and a cop yells at me
ok, he doesn't yell
and maybe he isn't a cop
but he is acting tough and irritated
store's closed, he barks, proceed to the check out.
i say thank you and
reach for nail polish but my hand falters as he says with a sneer
check out line, now
i don't even look at him so he can't see my total apathy for his opinion of the direction of my cart

am i really holding up the entire operation here?
there are at least thirty people in the store still
all of us desperate, pushing carts with purpose
not one of us here on a whim, we all need something now, not tomorrow, now
i am here searching
for dramamine for poor roads in rainy season in third world country
for diapers
for pajamas for girls of unknown sizes 
for something to help break ice between us and new daughters when we meet
daughters who don't know our langugage
and we don't know theirs

six year old, somewhat easy, especially with the lights off. doll with brown skin, change of outfit for doll. done.
twelve year old has had me drawing a blank
how twelve is twelve anyway?
is it mature twelve who would frown at a doll and the lame bearers of such a gift?
mature twelve who is more into, what? music? clothes? books? what do twelve-year-olds like in rural Ethiopia, or in the US for that matter?
or is it younger girl in twelve-year-old body who has suffered loss,
who has never had a toy to call her own so a doll would actually be treasured?
paralyzed in the toy aisles, cop being pushy
i wipe hot tears, looking around at all the plastic, useless crap
what would a twelve year old want? what would make her smile?
what if i bring clothes that are too small or too big, either way is disappointing.

they usher me out, my list half undone
tomorrow night we leave
i have a little more time
how twelve is twelve?



Me said...

12 year olds still like dolls, especially american girl type dolls. I think the chain stores carry a generic version of them with cheaper clothes options as well.

any of those crafty kits to make beaded necklaces and other such girly things.friendship braclets?

a knitting kit? but maybe thats something u can learn together.

Kate said...

So hard. Nail polish, in a variety of garish colors. And a cheap sturdy MP3 player. And I second the friendship bracelets. Do you know how to make any of the string bracelets? They are easy... just time consuming. Good luck. Breathe.

Kate said...
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Chelsey said...

I agree with the above. My 6th graders who are 12 love art. So drawing and painting. Nail polish. Cool hair clips. Bracelets. Beads to make bracelets are a great idea. They like music alot. So the mp3 player is also a good idea. I will continue to think. Good luck!

Chelsey said...
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Lara said...

12 year old girls here like girly things like the nail polish, a mirror, brush. Craft bracelet kits, A super cute journal type book to write thoughts in with multicolor gel pens. Mature 12 like mp3 players, makeup, scrapbook stuff. Less mature, maybe dolls if she hasn't had one before, or stickers. Honestly, I don't think it will matter. You are probably what she really wants most.

MommyBrec said...

I agree with everyone! But I love what Lara said above, that YOU are probably what she really wants most. :) (Even if she doesn't show it right away.) We adopted my sister from China when she was 13. I was living in China at the time and bought her a stuffed animal (who doesn't like to snuggle?!) and a yo-yo (they were all the rage in China at that time) and some books. Well, imagine my surprise when she did NOT like the stuffed animal, but instead wanted a Barbie...one of the "baby" ones. WHAT?! She was too mature for a stuffed animal but not for a little, LITTLE girl toy?! What I am saying is, you really cannot know what she will "enjoy", but you can know what she will "like", and that is anything from YOU, and especially something she can do WITH you if she wants to engage with you, or she can do "alone" if she is shy at first. Nail polish, beads, bracelets...she may not be "in to" that right now, but they are things to keep her busy if she feels out of place, or to engage with you if she wants to spend time with you but can't communicate that. GOOD LUCK! (Remember...she MIGHT want to "get" things from her country to do with you or show you. I don't know if you will have time/money for that kind of thing, but instead of buying two different craft things, maybe get one so you have one on hand, and then see if there is something you notice she has learned to make in Africa and get that to do with her there. She might enjoy showing off what she knows how to do! When we adopted my sister, she knew how to knit and in the first few months of being home she loved showing us what she could make.) Sorry I am not more help. GOOD LUCK! I am sure whatever you get will be great.

scooping it up said...

I love the mirror and nail polish and bracelet ideas especially. So many good thoughts already, thank you everyone for your generous ideas. I still welcome more, so keep em coming! I wish you had all been with me at T@rget...

-Special Mothertivity- said...

I would take UNO- and play with both of them- fun and a
Great way to learn each others language. I would also take some puzzles. Not any crazy jigsaw puzzles but maybe a 100-300 piece puzzle. Also- I don't think you can go wrong with art supplies- from markers and coloring books to play dough. They probably haven't had stuff like that around so it could be exciting. As far as a gift I would look for a locket- and put a picture of each of you/the family in it. Or maybe you could give her the locker and then show her pictures
She could choose to put in it. And if their orphanage is anything like others I've read about- she might LOVE a soccer ball. Cause she might not be all girl. I'll keep thinking but hopefully these ideas are helpful!

Nancy said...

OK, let me think...
polly pockets---small and if they go unliked they can go to her younger sister
a camera--super easy peasy point-n-shoot as I'm thinking of how kiddos LOVE to see the pics on the LCD immediately. Or maybe a Polaroid. My kiddos got new 15-ish shot Polaroids a couple years back. Their pretty neat these days. Or 1-2 disposables. IF you get lucky, she might come home with pics that SHE took. She might treasure these pics.
Jellycat--- stuffed animals that are AMAZING and soft and weighted just right for snuggling. Mimi has this one http://www.yoyo.com/p/jellycat-merryday-zebra-166767?site=CA&utm_source=cse&utm_medium=cpc_Y&utm_term=ZTG-150&utm_campaign=Google&CAWELAID=1324471787&utm_content=pla&ci_sku=ZTG-150&ci_gpa=pla&ci_kw={keyword}

I'll keep thinking


jcosta said...

Love all of these great ideas. Uno, friendship bracelets, YOU.

Your poem made me think of this post: http://www.karenmaezenmiller.com/a-halfway-spot.

jcosta said...

Love all of these great ideas. Uno, friendship bracelets, YOU.

Your poem made me think of this post: http://www.karenmaezenmiller.com/a-halfway-spot.

Sha Zam- said...

the have u

Jamey... said...

I to your unsurprise, do not have a 12 year old so what do I know? But...

I'd take a doll to at least offer to her. Offer it to the younger one first and then offer it to the older one with a silly smile. Even if she doesn't want it she'll know you tried.

Uno is fun, but how are you going to explain the rules to her? or call a color change? I'd try memory.

I don't know if you have an ipod Touch or ipad, but if you don't I would beg/borrow/steal/buy one for your next trip. My husband had just gotten an iTouch when we went to pick up Boohoo and we knew nothing about all the fun apps and games we could have been playing/entertaining her with. I'm still mad at him to this day for all that wasted potential. ;)

What about a Zhou Zhou pet? Or a hexbug nano? They should both think those are silly and fun.

Beads are a great idea. I'd say lots of different drawing things, you could leave them with a little dry erase board and markers maybe.

I don't know. That's all I've got.

sarahliz said...

Arts and crafts are great... But if you plan to leave the items be aware if the care facility has issues with toddlers and small items. The facility I work with will remove them even from older children as kids under stress and trauma tend to put more things in their mouth. I like the idea of a family bracelet or necklace (very sturdy/strong) that you can wear and give them as well. For them to see how you each match. Lotions and stickers and a simple rolling or vibrating massager... Things that bridge-opportunities to touch, have contact, massage each other and connect. Sunglasses are fun and encourage non treatening eye contact. They also give kids a sense of protection. A pictorial dictionary like abRichard Scary book full of details of daily life and words. They don't need to learn them but might enjoy exploring the details at all ages. Some plain tshirts, tote bag, or pillow cases and a pack of fabric markers could be a great activity you can leave with them. Tracing hands, drawing pictures... If they have special friends you Could even take fabric squares to do with friends at the care center which could become a memory quilt or something.

Bandanas... So cheap in every color and can be used for a million things in both play and self care...

They need you, not so many bells and whistles. Just a few props to bridge the fear for everyone.

Seriously the world is sendin you support and strength and comfort!

Deborah said...

I have no idea what 12-year-olds like. I think that would be the most scary part of this adoption process, adopting a child who's so much older than your others and at an age you're less familiar with. The others seemed to have some good ideas, though, so i'll just send you positive vibes!

Ingrid said...

This post is incredible. INCREDIBLE. I love your writing style- always have, always will. The bit about the tears being wiped away as you tried to decide what to buy? YES. Thank you for putting us right in the place you were.

Again, beautiful.

TeeTee said...

Amazing. Simply Amazing. Everything that has come together so far and everything that will come together just in time. Amazing.
My thoughts: sketch pad, color pencils, eraser. All quality items especially paper and eraser.
God Bless your trip!

hotflawedmama said...

I love this. So excited for you.

hotflawedmama said...

I love this. So excited for you.

amy said...

Every 12 year old girl is going to be different but a lesson I learned a few months ago was at an orphanage in a small village in Peru. Different culture, different language, different upbringing but a little 12 year old girl kept following me asking very intently for something, it was very important to her and I didn't understand. So I went over to the translator with this young girl and asked her to translate LIttle did I know she was actually speaking in english and was asking for an ipod. How did she even know about ipods in this remote village? I learned that no matter where they're from kids still have the same interests for the most part. I'm not saying get her an ipod but ask any Beehive in your ward what they would want and my guess is you would have a pretty good idea what your daughter would be excited about. Best of luck. I'm looking forward to following your newest adventure.

Annie said...

I love your writing. So real.
Hmmm, what 12 yr olds like: purses, nail polish, love the idea of friendship bracelets.... I think she'll love whatever you guys give her! Have a great trip chica!

Maria said...

You are such an amazing writer. I would vote art stuff, you can draw together-also a journal to leave with each of them and some mechanical pencils or pencils and a manual sharpener. They can write things that they are thinking about/worried about/looking forward to and you can translate them when they come home. I also like the Polaroid idea so you can take photos of you together and they can keep them with them while they wait for you to come back. Safe travels to you!

Kim said...

I got nothing. Boy City around here....Legos, cars, worms, soccer. BUT....I had to comment to tell you that I am beyond excited for you. You rock. Your heart is big and beautiful. Bon voyage!

Jessica Maruri said...

Hello! This is Ariel from Brandeis. I was recently visiting friends in Boston for SAMFund event and someone told me how much they're enjoying your blog. I was so happy to get a glimpse into your life; you were always one of those people who I so wished I had been able to get to know better (convoluted sentence, but you see where I'm going). The blog is lovely and you write excellently and in the midst of all the turmoil that you're going through, if it helps you to remember that so many people are thinking of you and praying for you, then good. And if you don't remember it, no matter, the thoughts and prayers must have some good effect in themselves. Best of luck in Ethiopa and meeting your daughters and safe travels to all of you!