My darling nephew Enakai, adopted from the Marshall Islands last spring, just had his kemem, the traditional Marshallese celebration when a child survives to age one. From the photos taken at his party in Tucson, I could see Enakai toddling around in his little Hawaiian shirt, admiring his surfer-themed cake and smiling at all the attention. A charming extravert, this little guy loves parties. It’s no surprise that his first word was “hi!”
As I shared in my last post, in April I flew to the Marshall Islands with my sister Yuri to help her adopt a baby. After changing planes in Hawaii and flying across the international date line, we landed in Majuro, on a spit of land so narrow it appeared we were landing right in the Pacific.
we fly into
On the ride into town, on the atoll’s single road, we tried to take it all in: the coconut palms; the brown-skinned children swimming in the lagoon; the jumbled cement ugliness of the town. This was the country where Yuri’s soon-to-be son was born, and we wanted to learn everything about it.
There followed whirlwind days of meeting Yuri’s baby for the first time, along with his birth mother Florine and extended family; going through the adoption hearing; and putting in his visa request at the US Embassy. Just two days after we landed, but after a long and winding journey of many years, Yuri officially became a mother.
Enakai Paulton Makino, age three months at adoption, instantly captured our hearts. He turned out to be a beautiful, bright-eyed, lively little guy, quick to smile, interested in everything, and generally a delight.
When he came to us, he simultaneously had to separate from his birth mother, wean from breastfeeding, and learn to fall asleep without the breast. Despite all this, he was amazingly cheerful and good-natured most of the time.
so much to taste
Over the following weeks, Florine came to visit every couple of days, usually with her cousin. Although we faced a language barrier, we gradually learned more about Kai’s background and culture. We confirmed what the adoption agency had said: there is a strong tradition of adoption in the Marshall Islands, where it is considered a joining of two families. In a poor country where women give birth to an average of seven children, many children are adopted out. Florine’s extended family lives better than many, in a real house instead of a plywood shack, but when we visited, their refrigerator was completely bare.
Though I could understand her decision, at times I cried at the thought of what Florine had to do: turn over her beautiful baby, whom she clearly loved, to a stranger. Of course, I don’t know everything that went into her choice, but during our time there, I came to believe that it was precisely because she loved him that she was putting him up for adoption, so he could have the chance for a better life and infinitely more opportunities.
Day by day, through bottle feedings and diaper changes and nap time walks in the garden, Yuri and I tumbled deeper in love with the baby. She did most of his care while I focused on logistics, but I still got plenty of time to stare into his shining dark eyes, talk to him, and carry him around while singing the songs I once sang to my own kids.
In the weeks of waiting for Kai’s visa to arrive, we fell into a dream state; some days, we made it no farther than our hotel room balcony, with its view of palm trees. It was a time out of time as we adjusted our days to the baby’s rhythm.
After two weeks on the island, I flew home and our sister Yoshi arrived to take the second shift.
I fly into
It was a tremendous gift to have been part of this magical time for Yuri and my new nephew Enakai, whose name means “glowing sea” in Hawaiian. We are grateful to all the people who helped bring this darling child into our family, especially Florine.
named for the sea
he crosses the ocean
to find his way home
Makino Studios News
Open Studios: Humboldt friends, please join silk painter Tina Gleave, feather artist Marianne Odisio and me from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1 for North Coast Open Studios. We’ll be showing new work, demonstrating our tools and techniques, and serving free refreshments in the historic Samoa Women’s Club, in Samoa, California. This Times-Standard article has details.
Powell’s: I’m delighted to share that Powell's Books on Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon, considered one of the world's best bookstores, is now carrying my cards!
rhythm of rain
the dog curls tighter
in his sleep
(1st place, General Adult, ukiaHaiku Festival 2014)
we run out of things
(1st place, Dori Anderson prize for haiku about Ukiah, ukiaHaiku Festival 2014)
Summer Show: I’ll have a solo show at Humboldt Herbals in Old Town Eureka, California in July and August. The opening will be during Arts Alive Saturday, July 5, 6-9 p.m. Hope to see you there!
Yokwe! I am writing from the Marshall Islands, a tiny atoll nation in Micronesia, roughly between Hawaii and the Philippines. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry: it’s the fifth least visited country in the world, barely ahead of Somalia. But you have to love a country where the main greeting, “yokwe,” means “hello,” “goodbye,” “love,” and “you are a rainbow.”
I’m here for a couple of weeks to help my sister Yuri adopt a baby boy. It’s an incredible, heart-expanding experience, and right now there is too much to process to be able to write about it. (Not to mention all those time-consuming bottle feedings and diaper changes.)
So for now, having just flown across most of the Pacific, I am sharing this haiku sequence about air travel, along with a couple of paintings about flying. Enjoy!
I pick up a little more
the toilet seat
still slightly warm
trying to remember
how planes stay up
my thoughts more and more
flying United feeling disjointed
on screen after screen
Modern Haiku 45:1 (Winter-Spring 2014)
warmly, Annette Makino
Makino Studios News
Hungry Ghosts: Thanks to everyone who came to the opening of this group show! What a fun (and crowded) evening! The exhibit, featuring artists with Asian and Pacific Islander backgrounds, runs through April at the Brenda Tuxford Gallery, upstairs at 325 2nd Street in Eureka, California.
Open Studios: Join silk painter Tina Gleave and me for the first weekend of North Coast Open Studios, May 31 and June 1, at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, California. Also, there is a group show of Open Studios artists with a reception at the Brenda Tuxford Gallery on Saturday, May 3, 6-9 p.m. during Arts Alive.
Traveling: As I am traveling for most of the rest of this month, my Makino Studios Etsy shop will be closed April 5-29. I’m sorry for any inconvenience.