Editor’s note: Five and one-half months ago, Josh submitted this post as a dedication to a turning point in his life of Fatherhood. Last week we submitted a post on “Five Questions to Ask Yourself” about adopting and/or fostering a child. We’re re-submitting this piece as a human experience complement to those questions. ~ RDK
by Josh Bottomly
Staring down at my adopted son’s new visa and passport for the first time, I did a double take when I noticed something very odd. The bold print read: Tesfamariam Josh. I asked Tafesse, our Ethiopian driver, if there had been some kind of misprint or mistake. Tefesse grinned and then explained: “In Ethiopia, a child’s last name is his father’s first name,” Tefasse explained. It’s our tradition.” I looked over at Amy in confusion. “So my name would be Josh Roc,” I asked Tafesse, “and Amy’s would be Amy Glen?” Tafesse nodded and said, “In our culture, naming one’s child is a sacred act. It’s a blood ritual. It denotes a very special bond.”
Later that night, I woke up around 4:30 a.m. to Silas’ whimper. Since it was my turn to take the night shift, I gathered Silas up in my arms and took him out onto the hotel patio, the only “cry proof” place in the hotel.
As I scanned my eyes across the city streets hushed under a blanket of fog and mist, I rocked Silas in my arms and sang quietly over him. Suddenly, an image surfaced and bobbed on the wake of my mind. It was of a photograph of my father and I, now yellow and faded with time. In the photo, I was scrunched up close to my dad like a koala bear. I must have been no older than Silas. Dad and I were at the beach, both wearing lemon-colored swim shorts. The sun reflected against our pale white thighs, and because of the sunhat on my tiny head, it was hard to see my freckled face or any of the tufts of my reddish-blond hair. Dad’s face unforgettably was contorting and howling like a wolf as ten pounds of squirmy flesh scratched up against his chest hairs, sending tickle bumps through his body. Continue reading A Father-Son Moment on an Ethiopian Balcony