Ilie Ruby’s life went from relatively calm to completely chaotic in the span of two months when she became an author and the mother of three children from Ethiopia. Between traveling (four trips to Ethiopian orphanages in 6 months), editing a manuscript and mothering three children, the transition wasn’t easy. But Ilie says she is having the time of her life.
“We didn’t think the little ones would be home for another year because the courts were backed up, but two months later we got a call that they had all passed court and we could come and get them. My husband got on a plane and I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything ready,” she said. “Our house was not outfitted for a 2-year-old at all. It’s the way life works for me, it seems like in my life everything always happens at once and so I am used to it. It has been a lot of juggling, but this has been the most magical time for me. My kids (now aged 3-10) are adjusting beautifully.”
The themes in Ilie’s book, The Language of the Trees, is much like those in her life. It focuses on second chances, the power of love and never giving up when things seem impossible. It speaks of the importance of roots and feeling a sense of belonging in a chaotic world. It is an amazing book, poetic and magical, and I highly recommend it.
Her book is very much about adoption (one character was adopted and raised by a distant uncle) in many senses of the word.
“It’s very, very important to feel rooted to something because if you are not, you spend your whole life searching for these roots,” she said. “This is a topic in my second book as well. In terms of our children, we keep Ethiopia alive for them; we eat Ethiopian food, have books about Ethiopia and do all the things you are supposed to do. But I think that being rooted to a family, in the here and now, is the best thing I can do for them. My kids are doing beautifully, and having a family means the world to them.”
While her kids have adjusted to their new home, it wasn’t all roses and sunshine. Like most children adopted internationally, there were challenges to overcome and it took love and patience before family life settled into a routine that worked for everyone.
“Some days it works seamlessly, others not,” she said. “I had my kiddos with me on the book tour most of the summer and it’s been a juggling act, but it’s been great.”
A strong advocate for the adoption of older children Ilie says she has been thinking about adopting since she was a child. She has helped place 10 older children she met in Ethiopia with families in the US. “Isn’t it wonderful,” she said. “They have parents and a home in America.
“There are so many kids living over there in the orphanages and I will do anything to help them,” she said. “People don’t think about adopting older children, but there are some really wonderful children in orphanages that need loving homes.”
She says that while working in one of the worst school districts in Los Angeles, California she learned that children are what you tell them they are and she works to find the good in every child.
“If you see one tiny thing about them and tell them and encourage them, they rise to it,” she said. “Even kids who lived in the worst neighborhoods, I could see them change before my eyes. These were the kids with mothers who were prostitutes or had fathers in jail, kids who never had anyone notice something in them or encouraged them.”
While her writing life is different now that she’s a happy, busy mother of three, she is almost finished with her second novel, which will be published next year.
Visit Ilie’s website here.
Buy her book at Amazon.