Tuesday, May 22, 2012

in awe.

I'm sitting here this evening speechless...not because I have nothing to say, actually the opposite. I have so much to say. I'm not even quite sure where to begin. I woke feeling so discouraged about some news we received yesterday from our agency. ( discouraged can't even begin to describe how we were feeling.)  I felt like the air had been knocked out of me. After having a nice visit with a sweet friend this morning, I felt so much better...I am so blessed by her friendship. Then my phone rang. It was a Colorado number. Even though I wasn't feeling like chatting much, I couldn't stand not answering it, afterall, the call was from Colorado...which meant...it was one of my sweet, dear friends or it was our agency. I answered it & heard the voice of my sweet angel friend, Dawn. She knew of the unnecessary mess we were dealing with this morning with our adoption & was wanting to help. While visiting with her, she was also chatting with another sweet friend who I know through our agency...these two are just something else!! In a good way!! They wanted to post on our IAN FB page about our situation. Would I care? Would Kasey feel too proud? I said, "Go ahead!!" Dawn made a comment that is so true...she said.."Kristen, you know, it truly does take a village." It does. The village has been all of you. Thank you. Within about 3 hours of these dear friends posting....we raised OVER the remaining balance. WOW!!!! Dawn, Charisa & our village....Thank you for being the hands & feet of Christ. We feel an overwhelming amount of love & support, almost not being able to breath...but for good reason!!

After all of this, Kasey & I headed to Tesfa's preschool graduation program. I again sat there in amazement. Our littlest guy. standing there so timid. singing so quietly. fidgeting with his hands, flashing me his smile & thumbs up every 3 seconds. My heart wanted to explode. Humbled & amazed, that he is our son. God chose him to be in our family. we are in awe. even through the up's & down's. He is good. He will get us through. Here stood my son, who was still waiting in the orphanage just 2 short years ago. and, to see him now....in preschool, standing there so proud. smiling at his mom & dad. waving his little arm off. God is good. He is faithful. He will restore Tesfa. He is well on His way!!

Then, we headed home before picking the kids up from school...I checked my email. The email we've been waiting to see. They have requested that the birth family meeting would be scheduled on May 29th!! That's next week....1 week from today!!! In one week from tomorrow we should be on that plane, headed to our girl!!! God is good, people!!! Humbled & amazed.

Finally, this evening we went to Ageze's Kindergarten graduation. humbled & amazed. Amazed again at the little boy he has become. He is so very confident. He stood on stage, said his quote in the play, & smiled out at me & flashed me those big, brown, beautiful eyes, seriously. those eyes:) He stood there with his little green graduation cap on. And he looked way too grown up for this momma. Oh, how I wish his Birth dad could see him. He would be so proud. The once shy, reserved little guy was now standing there so very sure of himself & everything around him. He looked so comfortable. After the program was over, he wanted a picture with his teachers & his teacher told me something so sweet. The class was talking about making a wish & they went around telling one another what they would wish for if they had just 1 wish.....she said most kids would say a race car, a new toy, a vacation...Ageze wished for alot of cows...a whole bunch. He has such a love for cows. He talks about his cow in ET all of the time. His cow meant nourishment. life. humbled & amazed.

                      Humbled & amazed at what God has done & is continuing to do in my life. humbled & amazed with who God has chosen to put in my life. So blessed. xo

Monday, May 21, 2012

struggles. survival. sunshine.

good morning!! I wish I were writing to tell you that we were on our way to ET...not quite yet:( But, since we should be hearing real soon, I've had a few things on my mind that I felt like sharing. In preparing to bring Ariyat home, we've gone over our 1st adoption process/homecoming in our heads numerous times per day. The boys have been home almost 2 years now...wow!! Some days it feels like it has been forever. Some days it feels like it was just yesterday. and some days a mixture. I guess I've really never fully explained on my blog how our attachment/bonding has gone...so, here goes. In writing this, know that I love both Ageze & Tesfa immensely. Neither is better than the other. they are both loved. Also, this allows me to openly talk about how in bringing Ariyat home will be a bit different.

When bringing the boys home almost 2 years ago, I definitely had way too high of expectations on myself & how life would be just normal, like it had been for the last 7 years with kids. I entered into this with zero expectations, I've learned. things don't always go as I see fit or wish for. there are curve balls. curvy curve balls. Ageze & Tesfa have 2 completely different stories. beautiful. sadness. desperation. starvation. joy. loss. heartache.....those are just a few that come to my mind. We knew when we were starting our 1st adoption that this would not be all rainbows & sunshine. We were dealing with 2 little lives that were so desperately in need of love, someone to hold them, a roof over their heads. security. trust. food. more love. stability. routine. I'm the first to say that during our adoption journeys...we've seen many rainbows & even sunshine. I've seen Ageze transform. it is beautiful. I've seen Tesfa trust a little more each day. makes my heart so happy. But, we've also had very trying times. Overall, Ageze has done remarkably well. His first couple of months home were hard. So hard on him & so hard for us, as his parents knowing how hard he was grieving. broke our hearts. After a few months home, we began seeing his eyes light up, that beautiful smile of his, wanting to be held & nurtured. and, then stories began surfacing of his childhood in ET. Oh, how he loves his birth family. He openly talks & visits about his life in ET quite frequently. We pray each & every night for his ET family. We love them. They are ours too.

Ageze is one sweet, silly, lovable little boy who loves the outdoors, cows, smiling, playing with friends & cousins....he is so proud to tell people he is from Ethiopia!!

The first few months for Tesfa were quite different. I remember thinking..." Wow, he is so easy, he hardly ever cries, he loves on everyone, he eats anything!!" All of those statements were very true then & some still are. Now, let me start by saying....We love Tesfa very, very much. I'm sure those of you looking from the outside in wonder if we are handling him or his behaviors appropriately. Parenting Tesfa has been different than with our other 3 here at home. You see, Tesfa loved to hug & kiss anyone & everyone he would come in contact with. Has it gotten better? YES! Are we there yet? NO! For almost a year now he has been going to play therapy. Some weeks I see progress, some weeks are just plain hard. Many friends & family comment on how affectionate he is. And, he is. to you. I have to remind myself daily that these are behaviors that are the result of all of the above that I mentioned earlier. I do believe he wants to be loved. and love back appropriately. I do believe he knows that we will always feed him. I do believe he knows that he will always be with us. But, FEAR. what a powerful feeling. He has so much fear that he is choosing to push me away so it might not hurt so bad if he is rejected. FEAR. waking up at 4 am & not going back to sleep. FEAR. telling me that he is nicer to Dad & not to me. FEAR of losing me. FEAR. screaming at me. FEAR. Hoping he pushes me away by screaming, waking up at 4 am & peeing all over my bathroom floor, not wanting to be held by me, not wanting me to kiss him goodnight. FEAR. some weeks we are dealing with these behaviors daily. some weeks, they might be a bit better. You see, he is so afraid of losing what he does have, that if he can keep me at an arms length distance, he might not be hurt as bad. He might not suffer another loss like he has. Oh, sweet boy. I pray each & every day that his fear might lift & be gone. That he would trust us. not just today. but forever. That he would take his time with his food & not so frantically eat & choke. knowing that he will always be fed. that he would allow me to love on him. to give him a kiss. (yes, he will give me a kiss, but only on his terms. he doesn't like to receive it.)

Tesfa is an adorable, sweet, silly little boy whom we adore. He likes playing with his toy computer, his cousins, & he LOVES quesadillas!!

Romans 8:15

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ""Abba," Father."

With all of this...I wanted to post an excellent letter of sorts to all of our family/friends that was compiled by some other of my adoptive momma friends...like I said before, we will be doing things a bit different this time. And, while Tesfa has been home for almost 2 years, we are starting back at square one with him also. We hope, trust & believe that through this type of parenting/cocooning that we will raise healthy, confident, secure, happy children.

Hello Everyone,

I am writing this letter to help our family and friends better understand some needs that our daughter could have and to express ways that everyone can help with her attachment to us.  We basically have some guidelines that we need everyone to follow for the time-being when spending time with Ariyat.

Please know that it is uncomfortable for us to set these boundaries, but it truly is in Ariyat's best interest for all of the reasons explained below.  Also, please be aware that we will be “laying low” with her for a while, as well – not having people over as much as we would like to and not going to as many gatherings and events that we typically would like to take her to, as it can be quite overwhelming and confusing for her at this time.

Before I get to the guidelines, I want to share a brief overview of attachment with a biological child compared to attachment with an adopted child to help you understand why we are setting these boundaries:

Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need and expresses that need, and the parent meets the need and soothes the child. This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create trust within the child for that parent - the baby is hungry and cries in distress, and mom nurses and calms the baby, which teaches the baby that this person is safe and can be trusted, and it makes the baby feel that his/her world is safe. By God’s very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which affects their learning, conscience, growth and future relationships.

Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process. Each one has experienced some type of break in the process - the loss of a parent, a parent who was unable to meet their physical needs (child went hungry), multiple caretakers, etc.  Because of this, Ariyat will most likely struggle with feeling safe and secure and may lack the ability to trust that we will meet her needs.  This is why we need to rebuild attachment and help her heal from emotional wounds.

The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the only ones to hold, cuddle, instruct, soothe, and feed her.  As this repeats between us, she will be able to learn that we as her parents are safe to trust and to love deeply.  Essentially, we are recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once our daughter begins to establish this important bond, she will be able to branch out to other healthy relationships.  

Currently, our daughter will have what may seem like a lot of structure, boundaries and close proximity to us. Although it may appear that we are spoiling her at times, we have been advised that it is best that we meet every need quickly and consistently.  She may show her grief and confusion in many ways, and we are trying to help her through it and prove that we are her forever family.

While some of this may seem like overkill or even sound a little bit crazy, we pray that you will understand and trust that we are doing this to give our daughter the absolute best shot at being a secure, well-adjusted, and confident adult. We can't give an exact time line to know at what point we'll say that our daughter is "attached" to us. While it may “appear” that she is well-adjusted and attaching to us, adjusting to life here and being affectionate with us does not necessarily mean that they are attached to us.  This process will more than likely take some time, and every child is different.  We will be looking for progress in the days, weeks, months, and even years ahead. 

Anyway, here are some ways that you, as our family and friends, can help us and our daughter. 

The first way that you can help us is to set physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if the adults around our daughter will  limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with a young child. This will (for a while) include things like holding and excessive hugging and kissing.  
Waving, blowing kisses, and high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed!  The reason being is that children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone, which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Orphans often have so many caretakers that as a survival mechanism, they become overly charming toward all adults. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are “very friendly,” but this is actually quite dangerous for the child. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have our daughter hugged, cuddled, and cherished by all of our friends and family. But until we feel that she has a solid attachment to us, we would be so grateful if you are careful to limit your interactions with her for the time being. 
Another way that you can help us is by redirecting any physical and emotional need to us (if you see that she needs a drink, would like a cookie, needs her hands wiped, fell down, etc.)  While we know that it is so natural to want to meet that need yourself, it is in Ariyat's best interest that you please redirect her to Kasey or I. 

Finally, we just want to thank you for all of the love and support that you have shown to our family.  It truly is a blessing that so many people are genuinely happy and excited for our family.  We cannot wait for each one of you to be able to spend time getting to know our amazing girl!!! 

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for being understanding of our needs right now!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

mothers day 2012

 "I want this to be the best day for you Mom, you know, it's only Mother's day once a year!!"....Grant said from the other room. Sunday morning I woke to 4 silly, sweet, loving on their momma kiddos...could it get any better!!? The only problem was...we were missing someone. Otherwise, we had such a fun day!!! Grant was determined we would have a super great day together!! Every hour or so he would ask..."Mom, is this a really good day?" I replied.."Absolutely, you know it!!" Truly, there is nothing I'd rather do than spend time with our children & husband. The kids requested donuts, I couldn't deny that request:) We headed to church, afterwards we came home & had a picnic on our lawn & played the day away!! The giggles that I heard that afternoon were priceless. The way that they played so nicely together all day was beautiful...I'm sure they had planned that out:) They had been begging me for a few days to give me my Mothers day gifts early...so as soon as they woke up they handed me their hand-made treasures. these are the days. each of them are so unique. just like they are.
these are the days that are going by way too fast & I already miss. Holding on & cherishing each day that I hear the word "mom, mommy, momma." So grateful that I am the momma to our 5.    And, a super great day it was, Grant!!!         xo  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

and we're moving again!!!

Quick update: After a few phone calls and many discussions later, we were assured that they would go to the embassy the next day and get things taken care of. Well the next day after they visited the embassy we received an e-mail from the embassy stating that our case had been submitted.  Come to find out that our case had been placed at "intake" which is the place where files go when they are looking for more information which wasn't relayed back to the staff in US. After they got it squared away, our case moved forward.  A little bleep in the big picture but not on our hearts.  Yesterday I received a phone call from our agency supervisor wanting to discuss what had happened.  See, we have loved our agency since we started with them in 2009 and this time has been no different.  That is why it was so disappointing to us that it appeared to be a bit of deceit.  After talking with them yesterday, I really feel it was just a breakdown in communication from there staff in Addis and Colorado.  We have always tried to be understanding of that because you are dealing with two completely different cultures and Americans like to feel like they should be doing things like us.  His call went a long way with us because he didn't try to hide behind excuses and took responsibility and asked for suggestions on ways they can improve in the future.

A lot of people don't seem to understand why a delay of a week or so is such a big deal.  Ariyat is not a stranger to us, she is our daughter and we miss her. The same way a parent would feel if a child was away from you for an extended amount of time.  She has been on our hearts since we saw her picture 10 months ago. We have held her and loved on her.  She is in our constant thoughts and prayers and so any delay to bring her home to us is a big deal.  So, soon we will have her home and those days can't come soon enough. 


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

waiting waiting and now even more waiting

This has been a super hard wait.  When you pass court about the only thing that makes leaving your child half way around the world bearable is knowing that your adoption is moving forward and that you will be back soon.  We have been waiting since March to go back, even more so we have been waiting to hear news that we have been submitted to embassy or that we have a birth family interview date.  On April 18th we got the news that we were submitted to embassy, so we thought, according to our agency.  With no confirmation or birth family interview date since being submitted, which had taken more time than most cases, we decided to e-mail the embassy directly last night which is morning in Addis.  I waited up till 2:30 because i just had this gut feeling that something wasn't right.  I finally got the e-mail and my heart just sank to the floor as I read these words "Please be informed that as of May 9th, 2012 your agency had not submitted your paperwork to U.S. Embassy. We recommend that you contact your adoption service provider to check on the status of the documents".  So for 3 weeks we have been waiting for a birth family interview date hoping to be able to go back and pick up our girl and all along we haven't even been submitted.  I have a hard time understanding why agencies don't understand that communication during this process is paramount.  It is the only thing that families have to hold on to.  I am having a hard time staying positive so I think this is a good point to end this post...