Sunday, January 25, 2009


Today is January 25th - exactly a month after my sweet son and husband came "home." It's hard to believe so much time has passed. It's even harder to believe that this little boy ever lived in an orphanage so far away. I try to picture him back in his little crib in Malawi at five months old. The image is faint. A wide-eyed boy who never cried, and barely smiled. I took some video footage of Moses watching Obama's inauguration the other day. I rewound it to see how it came out. I went a little too far and realized the last clip on the tape was of Moses at five months, right before I left Malawi. He was emaciated and glassy-eyed. His skin was hanging off his stomach. His soft spot had sunken in and his diarrhea wouldn't stop. We took him to the hospital where he was admitted for five days. I couldn't watch any more of the video. That boy is only a shell of the one I see before me today.

Today, I see a vibrant boy. One who loves life. One who's smile could light up a thousand rooms (and probably will). I see a curious boy. A boy who's eyes are wide to possibility. I see a thinker. A tinkerer. A winker. A heartthrob. A sage. A musician. A writer.

I see a lover. A softie. A daredevil. I see someone who's no longer afraid to love or be loved. I see a twinkle, a spark, pizzazz. I see someone with the wisdom of the ages. I see a friend. A compassionate one. A quiet soul.

I see a boy who will someday become a man. A good man. A man who knows where he comes from.

A man who used to be a little boy who loved to blow his mama kisses and smile at her dancing. The little boy who found peek-a-boo hysterical and his toys uninteresting. The little boy who loved nothing more than being held...

Moses fills my heart with immeasurable joy.

I find it a privilege to be a part of his life.

Below are some photos of our first weeks together:

I think it's funny that Dustin, Moses and Hans are all looking at the camera in this one. Moses and Hans have a strangely similar look about them...

What happened to the love?

Soccer! He takes after his mama.

Moses' 1st birthday party. The crowns are from leftover Christmas crackers.

Grandpa Pattison and Mimi gave Moses a guitar for his birthday.

Moses and his dad started a band.

Playing with his friend Soren.

Here he's making his favorite new face!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our little drummer (and guitar) boy

Moses is transitioning beautifully to our home here in Portland. When Dustin walked out of the airport it was with Moses sleeping on his shoulder. He woke and allowed me to hold him immediately. My heart soared. I didn't know if he'd want to be held by me right away. We made our way to the baggage claim where we played on the floor. With very little coaxing, he crawled to me. Dustin says Moses rarely crawls to anyone, so he thought Moses might remember me from all those months ago. That night, he slept in our bed wearing cozy footed moose pajamas (sigh), nestled against my side all night. And I woke up to him crawling all over me and snuggling his face against mine. I honestly couldn't imagine a more perfect first day and night together.

Moses is already on a fairly regular schedule (surprising considering Malawi is ten hours ahead of us) and we're all sleeping through the night. He doesn't like to be apart from his mama and dada so he's often found in our arms or playing right next to us on the floor. We are getting lots of good bonding time and really couldn't be happier. I love spending each moment with him and actually look forward to when he wakes up from his naps. I'll relish them soon enough, I'm sure - after our honeymoon phase.

Moses got a drum for Christmas from our neighbors. He opened this his first morning here and is seldom seen without one of the drumsticks in his hands. We have to pry it from his fingers at bed time. He also loves his daddy's singing and guitar playing and often sings, strums, and drums along as well. He's definitely a little musician in the making, as you can see below.

Sorry this post is short and choppy. Free time is generally full of sleep right now. I want to thank everyone who signed up to bring us meals in these first few weeks. It's so nice to not worry about spending a lot of time in the kitchen so we can be with Moses. We are so glad he's home!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

They arrived!

Dustin and Moses are home! Moses is more precious than I could have ever imagined. His transition to our our home, and mine to motherhood, is going quite well so far. Will write more later...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

He's coming!

I just found out that Dustin and Moses missed their last flight but were able to get on another one. They will only be delayed by two hours. I can't believe it. It's finally real. My baby is almost home. And I'm already crying. I'm going to be a wreck at the airport.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Baby black, baby black, baby black mamba

Here I sit on the eve of Dustin's and my eight-year wedding anniversary. Who knew we would wait eight years before having our first child? And who knew he would come from Malawi instead of my womb? I certainly did not. And I certainly could not have written a more beautiful story.

Dustin and Moses are still in Malawi. We had a horrendous time getting Moses' passport. A Malawi immigration official decided to get high and mighty. He started poking around about Dustin's visa (a tourist visa, not a work visa) and declared that no adoption is allowed on a such a visa. He refused to process Moses' passport. Days continued to pass. Our lawyer told us not to worry. He said there was plenty of precedent, and that even Madonna adopted on a tourist visa. Finally our lawyer finagled a meeting with a very busy, higher-up official who finally allowed the passport to go through.

Dustin went to our lawyer's office early last week to secure the passport and pay the bill. Before leaving for the city, he received a text message from the lawyer's assistant that said our legal fee would actually be FOUR TIMES the cost they had quoted us. Dustin met with Sister Mary on the way to the city, who advised Dustin to take the passport and say he would return later to take care of the bill. She agreed the bill was more than exorbitant and told Dustin the maximum he should pay for such a service.

When Dustin arrived at the lawyer's office, the lawyer refused to surrender the passport without full payment of his fees. Dustin tried to negotiate and say that he'd really rather take the passport now and come back to deal with the bill later. Our lawyer became very unreasonable. Dustin was in his office for at least four hours going back and forth, back and forth. Basically, the lawyer was holding Moses' passport at ransom - for four times the cost of his services. Dustin called Sister Mary while the lawyer was out of the room. She was appalled at his behavior (he's a personal friend of hers). She demanded to talk to him. The lawyer refused to talk to her. Hours later (or so I understand) he did call her. But he refused to budge on his fees. Finally, Dustin agreed to pay him just a few hundred dollars less than his asking price (much higher than the advised maximum from the sister) and he finally agreed. Goodbye dollars! Goodbye.

The next day, Dustin drove the passport to the capital, first passing by the doctor's office to get a signature on Moses' required medical examination. [Note: Moses had already had blood work and x-rays done at a doctor's office in Blantyre. But the doctor would not perform the entire medical exam until we had the passport. The problem was, the doctor was going on vacation for Christmas and was completely booked up until January. Fortunately, Dustin was able to bring Moses to the only other embassy-approved doctor (in Lilongwe) who was able to see Moses right away, but wouldn't finalize everything until he saw the passport. Sorry for the details, but I don't want to forget the progression later.]

As of Wednesday, the embassy had all of our documents: our visa applications (technically we are "sponsoring an immigrant"), our bank statements, our W2s, our pay stubs, the adoption decree, Moses' vaccination waiver, his medical exam, copies of all of our passports, notarized this and that... and the documents I had sent via DHL. There were enough forms to wallpaper Donald Trump's house.

The only way for Dustin and Moses to keep their December 13th return date was for the embassy to completely approve Moses' visa by the end of the day Wednesday. This wasn't able to happen. So we rebooked. The next available ticket was for Christmas eve and Christmas day. We took it.

Dustin and Moses have an interview (apparently it's an adjudication) tonight at the embassy. We hope to have a formal visa by Thursday or Friday of this week. There's really nothing that should stand in the way of their December 25th return date. We expect them at 6 pm. Oh holy night!

There's not a whole lot for Dustin to do at this point. I suggested he and Moses take a mini vacation. They did. Dustin, Margaret, and Moses went to the lake the other day. Moses was overwhelmed by the newness of it all. He didn't really get the concept of playing in sand, and seemed afraid of the waves (Lake Malawi can seem more like a sea). It scares me too a bit... but that's mostly because of the hippos, monitor lizards, and schistosomiasis. [grin]

Since Moses wasn't taken by the waves, Dustin took him swimming in a pool at a nearby hotel. He apparently liked that very much and splashed to his heart's content.

In other news, I received a text message from my dear husband this morning, which read, "The US may not be perfect but at least you won't find black mambas in your bathroom!"

Who could not respond to such an intriguing text message? Yes it is true. There was a snake, believed to be a baby black mamba in our bathroom. The bathroom is in our bedroom! Dustin said he was engaged in his routine cockroach killing several nights ago when he saw one that looked a little different... It was partly in a crack in the floor, so he couldn't really crush it properly before it disappeared. He thought little of it until he was sitting on the toilet (I believe that's what he said) when a baby snake came out of the hole and coiled itself up very near Dustin. I don't particularly know how Dustin got himself out of there safely, but he did. He called Margaret but before they could do anything the snake had got back into it's hole in the cement floor.

Margaret claims raw onions drive away snakes, so she proceeded to chop up tons of onions and sprinkle them all over our house, including in our closet, our drawers, and all over Dustin and Moses' clothes. They slept until morning when our watchman cemented up the hole. Margaret, who is either hilariously optimistic or intensely dishonest when it comes to snakes, claims that her onions would have been enough even without the cement job.

It's possible you don't know much about the black mamba. I've selected a few choice passages from Wikipedia. Grandparents of Moses: PLEASE STOP READING NOW!!! I mean it!

The Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis), is an elapid snake and is one of Africa's most dangerous and feared snakes...It is known for being very aggressive when disturbed or confronted and will not hesitate to strike with deadly precision.

The black mamba is the largest venomous snake in Africa and the second longest venomous snake in the world. Adult black mambas have an average length of 8.2 ft... Of the venomous snakes of the world, only the King Cobra is longer.

When warding off a bigger threat or feeling very threatened, the black mamba usually delivers multiple strikes, injecting its potent neuro- and cardiotoxin with each strike, often attacking the body or head, unlike most other snakes. It can strike up to 12 times in a row. A single bite from a black mamba can inject enough venom to kill up to 10 grown men, easily killing one unless the appropriate anti-venom is administered in time. When cornered, it will readily attack. When in the striking position, the mamba flattens its neck, hisses very loudly and displays its inky black mouth and fangs. It can rear up around one-third of its body from the ground, which allows it to reach heights of approximately four feet.

Without treatment the mortality rate is nearly 100%, the highest among venomous snakes. Depending on the nature of a bite, death can, and has resulted in as little as 15-30 minutes or it may take up to 120-180 minutes.


There was likely a black mamba on the same floor where my son plays. Baby black mambas are equally as deadly, if not more so because they are unable to control the amount of poison they release...

Christmas can't come too soon.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Part of a story from Anne Lamott:

Carolyn Myss, who writes about healing, went to Russia a few years ago to give a series of lectures. Every single aspect of getting to Russia that could go poorly, did. Then in Moscow it turned out that her reserved room at the hotel had been given to someone else. She ended up sleeping on a stranger's floor. Two mornings later, on a train to her conference on healing, she began to whine at the man sitting beside her about how infuriating her journey had been thus far. It turned out that he worked for the Dalai Lama. And he said gently that he believed that when a lot of seemingly meaningless things started going wrong all at once, it was to protect something big and lovely that was trying to get itself born -- that, in other words, perhaps it needed for you to be distracted so it could be born perfect.

Things in Malawi continue to "go wrong." We had been told that Moses' passport would most certainly be ready by Friday. It was not. The lawyer's assistant (who can take more credit for our adoption going through than the lawyer) passed the buck to the lawyer to arrange the getting of the passport. As usual, he is not answering his phone. Dustin did talk to him for a second yesterday when the lawyer called in response to a missed call. When he realized that call was from Dustin he quickly hung up saying, "I'll call you back later." He didn't. It's been over a week since we applied for the passport. When we helped Margaret get one earlier this year, it took only 2-3 days.

Another fun thing we recently learned is that the US Embassy needs some original hard-copies of forms we thought we could email. I had a frantic day of finishing paperwork and sending it off to Malawi via DHL. It costs over a hundred dollars to send an envelope 3-day. Or it was SUPPOSED to be 3-day. Even though the package was left at a DHL location at 11 am yesterday, it somehow missed it's 8:00 pm plane and spent the last 36 hours sitting at the airport NOT going to Malawi. Supposedly it is off and on it's way now, but is not expected to arrive until Wednesday - count one, two, three, four, five, six working days... DHL is very apologetic and said they would refund the money for their delay, but that doesn't help our paperwork get there any sooner.

What all of this means is that there is no way Dustin and Moses are coming home when their ticket says. We will extend once again. Hopefully for the last time. It is hard to understand why everything has to be so... hard. Perhaps it's so we'll be distracted and not get in the way of this great miracle being born. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I almost forgot. I should make a formal announcement, or as formal as possible on a blog.


Moses Wetu Pattison
Son of Dustin and Cara Pattison
Born: January 2nd, 2008 (supposed to be the 1st, lawyer's mistake)
Adopted: November 17th, 2008
Twenty-something pounds and lots of inches

His middle name, Wetu, means "ours" or "ours from God." It's from the Yao tribe. This name was prearranged by our Malawian friend Margaret for our first child, who just happens to be Moses! This name has special significance as several "prophets" in our lives have suggested that Moses is "for the community." He belongs to all of us. He is OURS. Or at least he will be after I've had plenty of one-on-one snuggle time!

Ta da!