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!
Haiku Awards: Two of my haiku received top honors at the annual ukiaHaiku Festival in April, held in my old hometown of Ukiah, California. (See my post from last year, Ukiah Backwards.)
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!