The first few days.

Published / by Joe / Leave a Comment

In my latest post, I mentioned basically very briefly the events that took place from the day an adoption was decided, until my father and 3 black sisters arrived at our home.

I still remember waking up from a very short after-lunch nap (honestly don’t know if I even slept by the anxiety.) I was eager to meet my new sisters and had been waiting for this time, for months. As I mentioned in my latest post, I couldn’t imagine at the time, that I would have 3 brand new black sisters being related to, for the rest of my life. I was 8 years old at the time, and my brain just couldn’t adapt to that idea. I was excited to have them, and promised myself I would love them no matter what. I just couldn’t understand the transition process of suddenly adding 3 new family members. When a new family member arrives from natural birth, you aren’t as shocked because you’ve been waiting it for 9 months, and also you see the development of the child through its mother. But when you suddenly sign up for an instant add of 3 African sisters, that can be quite scary for an 8 year old boy.

When they first stepped in the front door and into our house, someone had to break the ice. Me and my brothers (even the older ones that were playing tough) were kind of just “waiting to see what happens.” My mother, being the one to always remove awkward situations and being the problem solver that she is, cheered up instantly welcoming my 3 new sisters (and my dad.) We had prepared our dinning room table to have a nice first dinner, to get a first introduction of our selves.

Now, before I move any further with the events, I just need you to understand the kind of environment 3 orphan girls (the oldest one was abandoned by her mother) were living in an orphanage in Liberia that even got hit by rebels as a result of the civil war. I need you to imagine what hell they were living in since – as you probably have heard –  Liberia and other African countries aren’t the richest. This specific orphanage was being sponsored and supported by money and volunteers from US Christian churches. Reading about these specific small philanthropic organizations later when I grew up, I instantly realized how many phony organizations exist to supposedly support children in Africa. I don’t have great respect for Unicef and similar groups because of the stories we have heard. But these small – not for profit – groups that were supporting children in orphanages by actually volunteering, well you just stair in “aw.” Even so, when you have hundreds if not a thousand or two of orphanage children, you need to distribute all the money and volunteers that are helping out, which means that every child gets a smaller piece of the pie. My sisters were dangerously skinny when we saw them.

I always kind of knew that orphans, especially in Liberia, didn’t learn the common human gestures and manners around the table. But what I saw totally shocked me. My mother served us dinner, and even though my 3 sisters were given forks and knives, you see them eating with their bare hands. And not just eating, but recklessly and sloppy eating (having food drip on their legs and floor.) We knew the following weeks and months would be a great challenge to try and re-train them in ways used from a western civilized country. At some point one of the girls asked for a glass of water. When my father brought that glass, my sister would not drink it. “Why aren’t you drinking it Chelsea?” “It’s too white” she responded. By too white, she obviously meant to clear. We later learned that the only water they would drink, would come from a ground pump, that would bring up any dirt water that existed before the feet of the orphanage. There was nothing as crystal clear water or bacteria free water.

But eating wasn’t just one of the things they needed to be taught. Using the bathroom was a huge challenge. Besides not being very clean around the bathroom and leaving a “mess” everywhere, my sisters would just walk in to the bathroom, never shut the door behind them and do their business. Again: You always need to picture yourself the kind of situation they were living in, back in their home country. My mother jumped in on this issue and fixed it quite quickly I must say.

When you are an orphan and live among many other children in similar ages, you don’t understand the difference of good or bad many times, and street justice is the only justice. And most times it isn’t even justice – it’s simply an ego establishment and control issue (that all of us have.) So if you don’t like your fellow orphan, you just beat them up and whoever loses the fight, usually takes the “highway.” For whatever reason, within 3 days and for a couple of weeks, we noticed the younger 2 girls getting into constant fights between them. Throwing hard and painful punches to each other. The “funny” part of the picture, was that they wouldn’t use any element of surprise to defeat the “opponent.” They literally would exchange punches. So one would receive a punch, then she couldn’t be punched again until she hit the opponent. It was kind of a “how tough are you” kind of challenge rather a “I’m smarter and a better fighter than you” challenge. It was a challenge of stamina between them: Who could take the biggest number of punches.

Obviously whenever we saw such incidents, we would always jump in and punish both for their behavior. But there were times when they would hide in their room, arranging a fight and would blast punches to each other. We obviously only understood what had happened, after looking at some bruised faces and eyes. I got to give my parents credit on this one: In a very short period of time, they were able to put friendship between the 2 sisters, and limit the number of similar incidents. I don’t believe my 2 younger black sisters fought out of hatred. It was simply a human challenge to prove how great and strong each was.

All these issues and situations took to resolve anywhere from a couple of weeks to even a couple of months. It was a real rough and weird time frame in my family’s history. In the next post, which you can find on my home page, I will get into more detailed events, starting from month 2. I will be talking about stories my sisters shared with us regarding the civil war (which they experienced) and the environment they had to put up with.

If you are a brand new reader, I welcome you to my site and urge you to get a foundation established first on what I’ll be speaking about in the future. This post here will give you all the basic info you need to fill you in.

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