Friday, August 27, 2010

About their past

Sometime soon I will be posting my travel notes that I wrote while we were in Ethiopia.

You may find something curiously missing from my notes.

There will not be any photos or information about my children, 
their birth-family or our meeting.

I may share some emotions I felt, but nothing specific.

Why, you ask?

I know several other blogs who have shared information 
about their child’s birth parent, even photos, 
and that’s fine for them…
But, here is MY reasoning (take it or leave it).

My children have a story.
It is THEIR story.

The details surrounding how they happened to join our family are private.

Since the whole concept of the internet is foreign 
to those in rural areas of Ethiopia,
we do not know if our children’s birth family member 
would approve of having a photo posted online.
Hence, the photos we have will be for our children 
to share if they choose – 
some day in the future.

Some things should just be theirs.

They can’t retain the sights, smells or sounds of their home country.

They can’t retain the feeling of their first home 
or the arms of those they first loved.

They can’t hear the words spoken about them, 
the hopes and dreams their family member shared…

But they can have this:
The knowledge that the love, hopes and desires of their first family will be treasured by us and saved for them and their eyes, ears and heart – for when they are ready. 
It's not much, but it is the best we can do.

Someday they will know the questions we asked, 
the questions we were asked in return, 
and the covenant we share with 
the only other person in the world who 
knows what it is to call them “my baby”.

Someday we will tearfully explain, in great detail, 
the moments in Ethiopia that took our breath away.

Someday I will hold them while they cry 
and mourn the loss of their first family.

Someday I will cry as I tell them how I sobbed on their 
Daddy's shoulder by a coffee tree after our meeting was over, 
knowing we had just said 'goodbye' to the only 
connection to their past. 

Someday my children will know how much they are loved- 
on two continents, in two languages, by many hearts.

But it won’t be shared here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One month!

It's been a whole month since the day we took custody of our babies!
Here they are now!

Just a short plug...
If you EVER thought about adopting an "older" child...
say, older than 2 or 3...
Just Do It!
Yes, they come with some baggage...
but look at those faces!
It's so worth it!
Aren't they beautiful!?

22 days of firsts

This was supposed to be a "3 weeks home" post.
Well, because things are a teenise weensie busy around here...
yesterday was 3 weeks home, but here I am spending a portion of my nap time to tell you about it TODAY!

For the most part, since the day we met them our kids have been introduced to SOMETHING totally new EVERY day.
Like what, you ask?

Well, US for one.
Then there's...
First ice cream
First pretzels
First hotel stay
First bath in a warm tub
First Snickers bar
First elevator ride
First escalator ride
First airplane ride
First tram ride
First steps into the USA
First buckled-into-a-carseat experience
First meeting of siblings
First meeting of the dog
First night in their new beds
First bubble bath
First trampoline jumps
First swim in the pool

I could go on and on from this already super long list!!

The point is...

My sweet babies have experienced more firsts in the past 22 days than most people have this YEAR.

What would YOU do if your life was suddenly, irrevocably, completely turned upside down and NOTHING was familiar to you anymore? Seriously! Think about that!

I think that given this extreme set of circumstances and experiences, our three are doing AWESOME.

They laugh, they smile, they have accidents, they spill stuff everywhere, they test limits, they play, they hug, they kiss, they make messes, they cry, they do ALL the things toddler/preschoolers should be doing!

So how are we doing??

We really are doing well.
I have my moments when I resent my new schedule...
but a lot of that is just going from working full-time to staying home.
A lot of it is amnesia.
I forgot a LOT of what toddlers/preschoolers do and attempt each day!

Tomorrow our social worker comes for our first post-placement visit.
Honestly, today it feels like we JUST got home!
How can we be doing our 1-month visit already?

We still have ringworm.
We still have giardia.
We still have an itchy rash from finding out about a penicillin allergy.
We have completed 5 doctor appointments and have a bone-scan to determine a better age for the baby boy coming up.
We have met our deductible on our insurance...

I still get annoyed with the constant potty parade...
I still hate filling vials of poop...
but I love three little brown babies and can't imagine not having them here!

Off to check on the shint-bet situation...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's in a hug?

Just so you know...
I’m still here.
Thank you for the encouraging replies,
phone calls and emails after my post on Saturday.
FYI... that was my first weekend day to be sans-husband...
so I maybe felt worse that day since I was “on duty” with the 7 all alone!

So... lets talk about attachment.

In infants, attachment happens between parents and child at a regularly increasing rate. Mothers feed their babies, gaze into their eyes, and bonds form.

In adoption, it's a little harder.

All potential adoptive parents take classes and read books on adoption issues like attachment. Most of us know what to look for and what you hope to see. Most of us also read horror stories about what you pray you DON’T see.

One of our girls is having a tough time.

She will go to anyone,
always wants strangers to hold her,
hugs and kisses anyone,
and cuddles with whoever will pick her up.

To the innocent bystander, this looks like an adorable, friendly, lovable child who just LOVES people.

As an informed adoptive mom, I know that is SO far off from true.

This is a problem.

So... friends and family reading this...
no more picking up our middle girl.

No more.

Starting now, and until further notice.

Monday night at the men’s softball game she was held and passed around by many in our church body. No harm, no foul... she loved it, the friends loved seeing all three kiddos and the other two did much, much better at “checking in” with me and returning to me for affection (and snacks).


Then it was time to be done passing them around and get the kids into the stroller to get ready to go home. This is when the problem jumped in my face and demanded my attention.

She rejected me. Her mommy. Rejected.

When I took her away from the person holding her she began arching her back, reaching for someone else (anyone else). She was reaching for someone to take her away from me.

It was an eye-opening moment for me.
I saw first-hand what those books were talking about.

We had only been home 2 weeks when this happened and since it FELT like longer and everyone SEEMED to be doing fine, I assumed it would be okay for friends to hold them.

That’s not okay.

It’s textbook “not okay”.

So what do we do??

Well... friends and family reading this...
no more picking up our middle girl.

No more.

Starting now, and until further notice.

What else can we do?

The experts say to “regress” children like this to as early as possible. Holding to be fed, eye contact at meals, lots of cuddle time, physical touch type stuff.

The trick is to get this in during the day when you aren’t also being climbed up like a bean pole by two other children who want that same cuddle time.

So, short of growing a pouch and sticking her in it...
she will be with us, only us, until further notice.

And please don’t be offended... this is for her long-term emotional health, and after all...
she is my baby.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Life... or something like it

Hello sweet readers!
If you are a potential adoptive parent, or a precious new mom or perhaps a relative who loves me and doesn't want to hear anything teensie weensie negative... please go check out

Now, everyone that's left...
You have been warned.

I'm in a bad mood.

Yep. That's it.

I don't know what's wrong with me.
I should be so super happy!!
8 months of waiting for three gorgeous children to come home and be mine forever...
and now it's happened...
I should still be riding high on that wave of ecstasy!

I have been attacked by reality.

The reality is...
ALL preschoolers have definite ideas about how to behave.
All preschoolers detest being told what to do.
All preschoolers refuse to eat food at times, even if they have previously loved the same exact food.
All preschoolers give their parents a hard time at nap-time and bedtime on occasion.

The difference is...
I have not loved these children from the time they were born up until this day.
I didn't rock them when they were babies,
nurse them back to health with their first colds,
carefully change diapers with bad rashes and rub on soothing lotions,
bathe them before they could sit up alone,
or put teething toys in the fridge to help with those first few teeth.

What does that matter??
It means we don't have a history together.

So all *I* have to go on is my own experiences.
From my previous 4 children.
And it's not the same.

Not that I don't love them the same...
(I may not yet, but that's not the issue)
but that we don't just instantly know why the other is doing something.

For instance:
My first 4 were never allowed to play with the TV or the remote.
Its annoying to hear it going on and off, the volume gets louder, louder and louder...
and besides... they change all the settings and mess it all up.
So, no, they can't touch it till they are old enough to know how to fix whatever they mess up.
Baby boy at 2 years old thinks that the remote is an awesome toy and the tv buttons were placed there just for his pleasure. 
I  get annoyed because I have already said no, 
already done time-in, time-out and 
and nothing works.
WHY does nothing work?? 
Well... for one... he doesn't speak my language. 
For another, I am convinced at the care center 
NOTHING was ever off-limits.
I am also convinced there were
no consequences or punishments.
So I get to teach him all about off-limits, 
cause and effect, 
and everything else...
as a stubborn-two-year-old WITH newly-adopted-child issues 
and attachment stuff thrown in for good measure.

And I get annoyed with nap time and bed time.
The routine isn't working for me.
And I am tired.
For no reason.
I am sleeping well...
but I think I just have a lot on my brain all day
that wears me out.
And I don't want to fight with my husband.
Or my kids.
And I want to be ME.
The old me.
Not this new me.
This can't be the new me.

I don't think I have A.S.S , 
but one can never be totally sure.

I need a magical happy pill.

The middle girl has been sick.
She had a ruptured ear drum Wednesday night.
She didn't cry.
She didn't complain.
She didn't whine about it.
This is an institutionalization thing.
It makes me sad.

The other two are sick with snotty green noses,
coughs, and random other symptoms.
And baby boy has scalp ringworm.
And I am collecting poop samples
times 9
to test for Giardia.

So I am seriously hoping that once 
we get the medical stuff taken care of, 
things will be better around here
because I do love them
and I want to be happy
and I want to remember that desire to get them here
and be joyful.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A day in the life of Chrissy

We have been home one week now!
One. Whole. Week!

So far my days look like this:
5-5:30am - wake up call from down the hallway. "Mommmmmy! NAY!" (Nay = come)
5:30am - plop kids on the couch and go make coffee. Pray they are happy sitting there for 10 minutes while it brews. Give them cups of wutet (milk) while they wait.
5:45 - sit on the couch and turn on the news. What? They need to be up on their current world events, too.
6:30- (or whenever they can't take it anymore) I get up to make their breakfast. One tried and true option is oatmeal. We have this most mornings.
Circa 7:30 - Breakfast finished, Paul off to work, potty time done, diapers changed, kids (mostly) dressed... then the first-4 wake up. This is coming to an abrupt halt tomorrow since it's the first day of school!
8am - figure out what to feed the FF's. (First Four)
8:45 - clean up kitchen then begin cycle of keeping peace, return toys to rightful owners, assure small chocolate children that the Woo-shah does NOT think they are tasty, change diaper, take two girls to the potty, wipe noses, let dog out, let dog in, reassure children that woo-shah is not going to eat them, REPEAT.
11:30 - lunch. Figure out what they will eat that I am willing to make. Then figure out what to feed the FF's.
12:30 - clean up kitchen, get bottle for baby boy, begin nap time torture.
2pm - hopefully all three are sleeping FINALLY. Spend precious few moments with FF's, get some stuff done, reheat coffee from breakfast pot.
4pm - wake up sleeping children so that they will not sleep so long that they aren't tired at bedtime. Critically important to my evening routine.
4:15 - Reassure children that woo-shah isn't interested in snacking on their toes or fingers.
4:30 - play, potty, play, potty, diaper, play, potty.
6pm - So far, most dinners have been brought to us by kind friends and neighbors! So no cooking stress for me in the evening! Thank you Jesus!
6:30 - Eat dinner. Tag-Team style with hubby, shoveling bites into baby boy's mouth, reminding girls to chew with mouths closed, cleaning up spills, getting stuff someone forgot to get out, refilling drinks, remembering to eat.
7:30 - dinner done, dishes done, try to get kids wound down for bed time.  Good time for a bath if needed. Most days not.
8pm-8:45 - get ready for bed. Teeth, potty, pullups, lotion, pj's and then start the night time crying ritual.
Lay down with the boy, then with the girls, sing 15 rounds of Kumbayah intermingled with several "Tegna!" and "Lay down!" for good measure.
9pm (Lord willing) Get to tuck in the FF's and spend some time with hubby before crashing into bed.

I had forgotten how much WORK toddlers were!! Pretty sure I just "gave birth to" triplet toddlers and I was expecting who-knows-what!

So, NO... we have not found our new normal. This had BETTER not be it! ;)
I think if I can get a good sleep routine down I will feel much more human... but as of  now, we have 3 children with abandonment issues trying to learn that going to sleep does not equal waking up alone.

It's hard yet perspective-finding for me to be constantly reminded of the sadness, hardship and sheer loss my children have endured over the past year. It's hard to watch and I wish I could give them a magic pill to make it all go away. I love them incredibly much and it SO hurts me to know how their hearts must hurt.
On that note, I don't know how/when/where to introduce the photos of their birth father. From what I gather they have not seen him or a photo of him in a year. Not sure what the protocol for that is... but I feel like it will bring more confusion and/or sadness.

Adoption is HARD, but SO worth it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How are we doing?

Let's see.
The kids are doing great.
They are adjusting well...
all 7 of them.
The "first 4" are a little shocked by the noise level and the sheer volume of crying in a day...
but overall they are doing well.

The new 3 are keeping me on my toes.
I had NO idea how un-baby-proof my house was until last Tuesday night.

Honestly, I am a little over the whole 
"Mommy's full service potty tour" 
that happens a billion times a day.
I am growing to HATE the term "ca-ca".
Baby boy is in diapers full time and I swear that is easier right now.

We have a few English words under our belts...
Doggie (who they still LOATHE with passion)
Banana (also known as bananamuz - a combo with Amharic)
Up - as in pick me up
Mommy, Daddy and all the other family names
Hi, Bye-Bye
And I think that's it.

The girls sing ALL the TIME.
Slight exaggeration... its actually maybe 6 hours a day.
Crazy lots of singing.
In Wolaytinga.
And Amharic.
And Kembatta.
Yeah... Lilly knows songs in 4 languages.

Talking amongst themselves
I hear a LOT of "backa backa backa America!"
and "blahdeeblah blah Mommy!"
Then they sing together!

We are doing fine.
I am tired, I will admit that.
I miss the old days of waking up to relative quiet or sleeping through the night without wondering who fell out of the bed this time (around the gauntlet of bed rails), who is going to wake whom up with said crying, or if they will go back to sleep or be up for the day at 5am.
I miss the days of running to the store and leaving the kids home since they are old enough to do that.

Then I get those moments of joy:
Seeing a funny face made when they are happy and having fun,
Hearing a new song I didn't know they knew,
Seeing them dance to music on tv or on a commercial,
Hugs and kisses goodnight,
Sloppy wet kisses from a 2 year old baby boy,
knowing they are forever OURS.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My friend Lisa's perspective on our adoption journey

My friend Lisa has been there for our family during our darkest times and the absolute brightest shining spots along our journey the past couple of years! She is always, always, always there for me and is that person who will tell you what you don't want to hear, but need to hear anyway.
She wrote a beautiful account of our journey and homecoming that I think you would love to read also!

Joyfully ever after.....: Beyond Words: "We have great friends, Paul and Chrissy, who have been on a journey. It is a journey that isn't for everyone but when God is behind it, His ..."


This was the day we met them!

Me and the girls!

Magnadoodles were a huge hit!

The cutest baby boy in all of Ethiopia... with the biggest eyes!

In Durame... other than meeting the birth father, this was the highlight. 
I NEVER drink soda. NEVER. 
Until this day.

More of the paradox of Ethiopia.

More later... I have to get the photos off of Hubby's computer first!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We are home!

Thank you to my friend Jamey for guest blogging for me while we were away!
I think she did an excellent job!

Our trip was wonderful.
Truly wonderful.
I have travel notes from just about every day we were there and we have tons of video... lots of photos... hopefully someday soon I can figure out how to post some of them!

Our three new kiddos are wonderful. We are so in love with them and they honestly seem to be attaching pretty well (better than we expected at this point!)!

The "first four" kids at home are great too! So much help and they love them all so much!

We put the final nail into our craziness coffin when we took all 7 kids, plus the inlaws and their two kids to the pool yesterday... on our first full day home from Ethiopia! It was very fun and a great day to be at the pool since it was like 100 degrees! The new kids loved the pool... not afraid of water AT ALL (thank God for floating swimsuits!!).

The inlaws are here till Saturday morning, then we will be our new-normal family of 9 for REAL.
Then the REAL fun begins!!

Top of my head thoughts from Ethiopia...

  • The poverty is staggering, but the beauty is breathtaking.
  • Begging is different when it's a life and death matter.
  • The nannies ADORE the children in their care.
  • Happiness is sharing their first Snickers bar with your three new kiddos.
  • Joy is discovering they don't like Snickers and getting to eat the whole thing yourself (and ignoring them pointing and calling it CaCa).
  • The bead shop in the pink building across the foot bridge has very nice items for good prices and one parent can walk there after you take custody for some additional shopping.
  • The grocery store two blocks down the street has all kids of stuff and saves sanity when you just need something familiar to eat.
  • The trip to Durame was priceless. Meeting our kids' birth dad was incredible and one of my top moments of the trip. The hotel and the food... horrible and if we could have driven the 6 hours back that afternoon, I would have agreed to that for sure.
  • Pink goats and roaming cows... you just don't get tired of some sights.
  • My husband has never been sexier than when he sat on the floor of the Union hotel and colored with three non-English speaking children and told them how much he loved them.
  • My new baby boy LOVES his pouch. (baby sling)
  • Internet is cheap at the hotel, when it is working.
  • Laundry is cheap.
  • Food is cheap.
  • We came home with tons of souvenirs and had all our laundry done there, and still didn't spend our budgeted money.
  • Bring your pillows.
  • The rainy season is COLD. Bring long sleeves.
  • The guy server in the hotel has a 1 year old and 3 year old at home.. if you have extra clothes or shoes he would be much appreciative.
More later...
I am so glad to be home!!
I am so thankful for my friends and family and the love they have shown us in this process!!
I can't believe I have 7 kids!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Today's the day!

Paul and Chrissy will be home today and starting their life as parents of seven little sweethearts. I mean really besides mine (lol) have you ever seen a more beautiful family?

I've gotten a few texts from Chrissy when they were in Germany. They're exhausted and ready to be home. I can remember that feeling so well that I think I'm starting to feel nauseous again. They will be home this evening. They will start to emerge from their shock-induced coma in about six weeks. They will feel like things are steady in about six months. They will feel like they've found a new normal in about a year.

Remember to cut them some slack, send them some prayers, keep your stupid comments to yourself, and just be a friend. They're going to have a lot of reality setting in as the parents to so many, the parents of three new children, trying to meet everyone's needs, and dealing with the health issues and behaviors that come from living in an orphanage. The amount of adjustment that every single person in their family will have to do is mind-boggling.

Be the hands of Jesus for them.

PS. There's a giveaway at my blog. Come on over and enter to win and you could give the necklace to Chrissy.