4.30.2012

Where Bryan Post Meets Jesus

Well, folks I did it. I actually referenced our Post Institute training in a talk I had to give in church recently. I asked my husband if it was cheating. He said no. I asked him if he thought it was blasphemous to Jesus or Bryan Post. He laughed at me like I am a lunatic, which is true.

But you all know I am up to my ears in trying to parent more therapeutically. It is infiltrating my brain and perspective, which is a good thing.  I wish it would be like a shock collar and ZZZAPP! me every time I yell at my kids. I think I would learn faster. This "being on my mind" thing is taking awhile to permeate. I am truly so bad at it.

Several weeks ago when I was asked to speak on the topic "honoring the law" in church I hit the mental snooze button and thought I cannot waste three hundred people's time by talking about this topic. You have got to be kidding me.

After much meditation, prayer, inspiration and here is what I ended up reading, slightly emotionally, from the pulpit. Scooping it Up's mix of trauma parenting and Christianity talk: to a group of regular ol' Latter Day Saints.


My biggest struggle in pondering this talk over the last week was the mundane nature of it. Not a person in this room needs me to testify to the importance of paying their vehicle excise tax, or not rolling through stop signs.  We all know breaking and entering should be avoided.  How could I possibly tweak this topic so as to testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ?  For me, if a talk doesn’t actually get there, then I have not done my job.

Feeling uninspired I was ready to completely abandon the topic all together, and just go my own way, but finally a thought occurred to me that allows me to talk about laws and Jesus in a way that is personal and real to me. I would like to talk about honor first. When used as a verb, honor can mean “to accept as valid and conform to the request or demands” another way to say it is respect manifested.”

When I put those definitions to paper, I knew I hit upon my topic. A few weeks ago I was doing a late night check in with one of my friends via internet chat.  Since we haven’t been on FB enough this week I will read it to you

Me: How you doing today? How’s the kiddos?
Friend: you’re not gonna believe this. I am sick again. This time it’s xyz.
Me: NO!
Friend: I am never gonna make it. Never.
Me:  Ok I don’t want this to rub you the wrong way, but can we start really praying for you? Would that bug you?  
Friend:  no, please do!!!!!  I would appreciate it. i know there are way worse problems out there, but i can't take it anymore
Me:  no, this is enough. I think a higher power needs to get involved big time.
Friend: here's an honest question though - why do we have to ask/pray? Can't He see when we are struggling?
Me:  I think it's the same reason I make the kids stop throwing a tantrum, calm down, look in my eyes, trust and ask. I know when Tsega wants and needs his shirt untwisted, or bag of snacks opened. But that isn't the point. I want him to be able to communicate, to connect. God is a father to us. He wants us to learn to trust him, listen to him, rely on him. He wants us to let him be in charge, the same exact way I want Tsega in the baggie example to let me love him and let be in charge.  He has to ask because it shows he respects me and trusts me.

Now, this may not be the first extended metaphor you’ve ever heard relating the raising of children to our relationships with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  I know my thoughts are not ground breaking, but they ring true for me and are especially significant to me in my life right now.  Because my entire day sometimes feels like talking four children down from their poor decisions and tantrums. It’s helping them be positive, make good choices, stay safe, learn, grow.  Right now, it feels like I am attempting a tiny microcosmic piece of what Heavenly Father does with us.  At least it regards to our communication with him, doesn’t that sound an awful lot like what he does?  He tries to talks us down from poor decisions and tantrums and our freaking out and our stress to help us make good decisions, feel positive, stay safe, and grow.  At least, He wants to. I am sure of it.

I want to talk more about tantrums and trust. About whining and pleading versus submitting. About fear versus love. Because even though it doesn’t list in the Ten Commandments:

11. Thou shalt stop trying to do everything thyself
12. Thou shalt let go of thy childish pride and throw all thy cares and worries and sins away and allow the Atonement of thy God to bless thee and work in thy favor

These may be some of the most important laws that exist.

On a daily basis I ask/plead/beg and instruct my children to come to me for help, please stop yelling, whining, speak respectfully, ask appropriately to help them. But when conflict or difficulties arise, it is almost comical to observe what they, in their immaturity and short-sightedness, see as the only obvious courses of action. 

Brother takes my toy: biting should work just fine

My room is not clean: hiding it behind the chair will do

I miss my mom: smearing the walls with lotion and Vaseline will fill the void.

None of these techniques solve my kids’ problems.  So many times when they try to work it out on their own, they cannot see a path to peaceful resolution.  Often they don’t want to let me point out a better way,  or envelop them with love. Often they only come to me after they are so far in over their heads in a fight, or empty tube of Desitin, or all the underwear is completely missing, that now we have a real problem.

How familiar does this sound to the way we lead our own lives? We are like children saying I can do it, I have this under control. No problem. Sooner or later we see that our solutions were ill timed, or ill thought out. We are childish. We are shortsighted. We often make our problems worse. And then the tears start. In some ways, we are no different than the children in my house, who are 6,4,2 and 1, I should add. 

One wonderful perk to being parents via international adoption is that we have had parenting education opportunities not often afforded parents via biology. We’d have the good fortune to take courses and see workshops and read books that the general public might not have at their fingertips. In one of our trainings we listened to a renown therapist, doctor and former foster child talk about children, emotions and behavior.


He teaches that all poor behavior stems from fear. All anger, manipulation, hate, unkindness, acting out, acting in, defiance, rebellion, tantrums, lying, are just dressed up cognitive expressions of fear. And that the opposite emotion that guides reactions and relationships is love.  As we learned about this concept Hubs and I were nodding, “Amening” and feeling the Spirit confirm this truth. 

In Timothy we read:  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love... 

We are asked by Jesus to follow him. Believe him. Pray in his name to the Father for our good. Jesus begs us to make good choices and come unto him. This feels so familiar.

He asks on an hourly basis for us to lean on him so he can direct our paths. He sees solutions to our problems that we cannot. In the midst of my tantrums, whining, complaining, he is waiting with love for me to calm down, look up in his face, breathe slowly, and ask politely for his help.

 He has said in 3rd Nephi Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. 



In other words All I ask is that you be humble enough to allow me to help you. You cannot come to be demanding I save you. It doesn't work that way.

In John, Jesus promises I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

So why don’t we turn to Jesus? Why don’t our children to us? Why do all of us 2-year-olds, 32-year-olds, and 82-year-olds act out, rebel, tantrum, whine, seek our own paths and own will, attempt to hide our pain and mistakes? We do we hurt others?

I would submit that it is because we are afraid.
We are afraid we will be rejected.
We are afraid of being hurt.
We are afraid of being out of control.
We are afraid to be wrong.
We are afraid of being judged and misunderstood.
We are afraid to fail.
We are afraid we will be alone.
We are afraid we are not good enough or worthy of the love.
We are afraid there isn’t enough to go around. 
We are afraid this time we've finally made the mistake that will permanently injure our value in the eyes of God or those we care about.

But so unlike we fallible parents-in-constant-training, our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ will never fail us. They have promised us peace, even when we are in stormy seas: They can guarantee their help no matter our struggle. 

In John 14:27  Jesus says:  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

He is telling us “I will love you. Don’t be afraid.” That is the message I am trying to send to my children. I often mess it up; I send mixed signals when I lash out with impatience and my own fears take over. But God has confirmed what a therapist took his whole life to figure out: that loving actions can heal. Letting the parent parent us actually does help. 

How blessed we are.  This relationship we can have with Jesus himself is what I want to honor today. He requires very little but he does require us to obey, look to him and to apologize – or rather, repent - before he can help us. That doesn't seem like such a tall order when we are asking our own children to do just that.

A loving Father in Heaven and His Son want to fill us with love and confidence in them and in ourselves.  Just like the Israelites of old, sometimes all that is required before the healing to begin is for us to simply stop the direction we are heading, pause on our destructive paths, and look up.

We need to look to the author of our faith.  Look up to the eternally loving beings who can get us out of our messes if we will only let them.

I want to honor my Savior. I honor his love for me. I honor the forgiveness he shows me when I throw fits, mess up, speak disrespectfully. I pray I may always remember this and frankly, try to model this eternal kindness and grace as I parent my own children. I hope the love I show them will reflect the Savior’s love for them.

Amen




4.27.2012

Sometimes

Sometimes you gotta post pictures without editing them at all. And try to breathe and not care.


Sometimes you gotta just take the pants off and run in the sunset.






Sometimes ten kids and two moms at the library doesn't feel like that much.



Sometimes naps are better after the room is totaled and one can sleep outside the crib.





Sometimes naps are better in the stroller.



Sometimes right wherever you are is a good place to drop down for a rest.



Sometimes three is not a crowd


Sometimes two is better



Sometimes Mama is still very sad the curls are gone.


Sometimes I see how cute he is without them. And sometimes upside down is a better way to travel.



Sometimes friends over light up the dark skies. Sometimes, they get so wild you must sedate them with television and not feel bad about it.



Like today for example. Phototherapy is over. House must be cleaned. Wishing for fairy godmother to bibbity bobbity boo the mess away. Happy weekend to you all.

4.25.2012

Adoption FAQ and a Teensy Tribute


I saw this quote at the studio where I've been doing yoga lately and it really struck me.
Life feels like it is on the cusp of expanding for us to be sure.  I would be going crazy with all the little there is to do about our adoption, but there is nothing like four kids to fill the Wait Time. I watch the mail box for documents. Keep reading about older child adoption by blog stalking families who recently brought older kiddos home. We carry the girls' pictures around. Talk about them. We are practicing a little Amharic. Teaching friends and family how to say their names. It is strange after the massive rush to get paperwork done to have this void of inaction. We are almost to the point where our hands are totally tied and it is up to Ethiopian courts, the US Embassy there, and God. Three powerful entities in Ethiopia adoption to be sure.

Many sweet readers emailed me to remind me I didn't say anything about what is next for us, or much about our girlies, so I wanted to answer a few of the big FAQs.

1) How old are they? The girls are 6 and 11ish. No, we, nor anyone knows their actual birthdays. Not all folks in Ethiopia do. They use a different calendar, more months, different year, and there are not always birth records out in the country when kids are born at home. I look forward to asking them to see if they have better recollection than the paperwork. I am guessing we will wait several months, get to know them on a social/developmental level and then help them decide when they want to celebrate their birthdays and how old they are. This is very normal. Some families have kids home a year and celebrate turning 9 again because it wasn't quite right. Some add two years to their child's age because the original guess wasn't quite fitting. We will play it by ear.

2) What can you say about the girls? The girls are biological sisters and are very close as far as everyone who meets them can tell. I know I need to give them blog names so I can make more sense when talking about them. I will work on that. One of them likes to wear red. The other likes to sing. They are lovely. They are in school, mostly learning some math and English. We do know a lot about their past and history and hopefully will be able to keep in contact with some of their family. We want to keep their privacy at this point, but I will say this, their mom is amazing.

3) What happens now? The next step in the process is for our dossier to travel to Ethiopia, be translated into Amharic, and be submitted to court. One little hitch we are waiting for a finger printing appointment at USCIS (immigration.) Once we get those prints done, within a week or three we will have a very important piece of paper that will finish all we need to get submitted to court.  We will wait for our hearing date, for which Hubs and I will both go to in Addis, the capital of Ethiopia. On this trip we will meet the girls, spend time with them, meet with a judge who will hopefully grant us custody of the girls, but we will not be able to bring them home.  We are hoping we get to travel this summer for this court hearing; I am thinking August would be perfect - do you hear that, Universe? We will probably be there five days or so depending on what else we want to do in Ethiopia. Our second trip will be for an appointment at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. This will likely be three to five months after the first trip and this is the trip when they will come home with us!

4) How will the girls be after you leave? How long will it all take? All the time we aren't there with them makes me physically ill. We pray we are lucky and it goes quickly for their sakes. But we'd be really lucky if they made it home by Christmas, and there is no way to know if that is ambitious or totally reasonable. So much depends on court and embassy and we will just come when they tell us to come. We might have very little lead time. Or a lot. The latter is much worse in my mind.

5) You are taking all the kids? No, as of right now, we are not going to take our kids with us on our trips. I know families who've done this. I am in awe of them, but am pretty sure Hubs would rather do anything (anything, you name it!) than travel to ET with four and return with six kids. We don't have it in us, and they don't either. Tsega and Brady We barely survived the Cayman Islands flights a few weeks ago. There is no way we'd make it with two toddlers, a preschooler, two six-year-olds and an eleven-year-old, two of whom do not know us or speak English on a 30+ hour flight. I believe the only circumstances under which Hubs would consider the idea would be if he didn't have to be on the flight with me, we were staying for five weeks so the kids had time to get used to the time change, and the seats were all free. So, if someone knows how to make that happen, lemme know.Actually, check that, even if that happened I think he's still say no.

Someone once told me when I was on bed rest and likely not going to make it to bring Tsega home, Ethiopia will still be there in another year or two. So as much as we want all the kids to go, now is not the time, and the country isn't going anywhere. 

6) Are you really getting a big monster van?  We are learning more about more about large vehicles. We do not want to keep our Toyota minivan. It seats seven, not eight, as much as we love this car even with the squirrel damage, we just want and need more room. If anyone would like to contribute to the suburban vs passenger van discussion, PLEASE DO SO. We are open to your passionate arguments at this time.

7) Is Hubs available to put together our dossier? Did he really do it in two days? Hubs is not available for such feats of awesomeness at this time. And yes, he really had it mailed in 48 hours after getting the list of required documents. It is surreal and he's totally taken.



Speaking of Hubs: He is winning Gold Medal Husband award lately. The last two years have not been easy.  There were times when we were so consumed by the difficulties and needs of the children and stress at work that it took some major overhauling of our relationship to learn to work together and to be there for each other. It wasn't always pretty. Co parenting is way harder than anyone ever says before you enter into those roles. Co parenting when things are tense is a time bomb. We have come far and learned more than I can say. He fights for me. What wife can ask for more? He fights for me and our family. And he finishes adoption dossiers in two days.

He sent me the link to this a few months ago and said this is our next adoption song. The chorus made me bawl like a baby. C'mon. Join me. Have a little cry.


4.22.2012

Something Gives

Look at the baby playing in the Caribbean. Isn't he pretty? Isn't that hair gorgeous?

                                     f/6.3   1/6/40 s    ISO 250    70mm     Canon 5d Mark ii    24-70mm 2.8 L

I am still not ready to face it. But Tsega's hair is all gone. Buzzed. Shaved to the nubbin. Hubs and I had a deal, see. We joked a year ago that when I have an Ethiopian daughter to act out my hair braiding obsession on  to make really pretty, Tsega's long hair would get chopped. I agreed to this but kinda told myself over my dead, cold body.

Now we have two very sweet, very braidable girls coming our way, but I will have you all know that even had I considered this deal binding, I would have deemed it would only be valid when said girl(s) are here. I had mentioned a few days ago in passing to him that I understood where Hubs was coming from and that something has to give when you have a lot of kids, and the time it takes to do T's hair, blah blah blah. Heck, I even had trimmed it down what I considered way-too-short length to take the pressure off.

Apparently it wasn't enough.  I got home from yoga yesterday and my baby was bald. It took me by such surprise to see a strange little boy in the backyard and I bawled hysterically. And the funny thing is, Hubs told me that when he took out the clippers Samantha tried to stop him. Dad, you can't! You just can't, Mom will be so mad and we will all get in big big big trouble, you should not do this, please! When she realized he was serious she went up to her room to cry.

Here is to celebrating my gorgeous baby. Who is pretty no matter what. {Sigh}







Ni Hao Yall

4.20.2012

Six

I know know, you were maybe thinking I was referencing the fact that sometime in the next year (barring some major snafu in our adoption case) we will have six kids.  But you were wrong. I am talking about the fact that as of this week I have a six year old.



Isn't that terrible? I hate the passage of time. I hate that the little ones are getting less little. Sometimes I think the sole purpose of this blog is to slow time by detailing us as we are in ridiculous minutiae. I don't want to forget who they are right now. 

Samantha is capable, she is gutsy, she is sassy, she is wise, she is perfection. Even though at least one of her sisters is older than her (one of them is really close in age on paper, but may in fact be a bit older than her in actuality) she will always be a nurturer and a leader in this home. She is a force of nature. I hope she gets it from me, but frankly, she is who is she because she is who is she. I love every particle of this girl

 


A little birthday interview with the girl wonder:

What is your favorite color? Pink
What are your three favorite foods: pizza, chili, Ethiopian food and ostrich. Even though I've never ate ostrich, I still like it.
What is your favorite thing to play with: dolls, the doll is Hannah. Mica the stuffed dog, and I like to color. Can you ask me what my favorite pet is next?
What is your favorite pet? Fifi, our cat.
If you could have any pet what would you pick? A horse
What is your best subject in school? reading.
Are you really good at reading? mmm hmmm
What is the scariest thing you ever did? Clean-up jobs.
What is your favorite thing to do with your family? Beach, or pool. And bouncy castles.
What is your favorite song? Rolling in the Deep, because I get that up in my head almost every day.
What is your favorite store?  IKEA!!! (the fastest answer of all the interview)
What is your favorite drink? lemonade



What is your favorite treat? Cookie, ice cream and cupcakes.
What is your favorite non-pet animal? elephant.
What is your favorite show? Dinosaur Train
What is your favorite dinosaur species? Gigonodosaurus. Because it has big teeth.

What is your greatest talent? I think I'm really good at playing outside. And doing ballet.
What is favorite chore? setting the table
What do you want to be when you grow: I want to be a farmer. I want to be a mom and a farmer. I'll have a husband. He and you will clean the house. I will work outside on the farm.
What is your favorite thing to do with mom: Go on mommy daughter dates, only if you let me do what I want when we get there.
Favorite thing to do with dad? Go on Daddy daughter dates.
If you visit any place? Warmest place, of course. Cayman Islands.  Can I rewind my show?

We have a lot of birthdays coming up and this child's most wonderful gift to her mother is her ability to roll with punches and delay gratification. She agreed to wait a few weeks and do a big combo party with some of her siblings. She said I don't care as long as we can invite some of my friends. It won't feel like I am actually six until I have a ton of people over and we have cake with candles and they all sing and stuff.

Hubs and I sneaked her out of the house after her brothers were all asleep to grab a little treat on her special day with that promise to do a big party later.

Literally, we got her a Treat.


My first baby. Six.



4.19.2012

Back in the Saddle Part V

Conclusion to the series. Parts I-IV here.  Thanks for hanging in here with me.

April 4th, 2012

This has been a long process. It goes against my gut to not go with my gut and instead, take weeks really educate myself as a team with Hubs, weigh reality and make a good choice. It feels rather unromantic, but necessary.

Last night I was overcome with drama as I am wont to do at times. I might have even tried to pull an ultimatum on Hubs. Either we are doing it and accept all the challenges and risks of adopting two older kiddos, or we aren't and that is a perfectly understandable decision. I can't be in this "no decision" space anymore. Blah blah whine whine whine.

He gently reminded me that it is also perfectly understandable that we take our time. He is right. Looking back, my urgency seems a little selfish.

But then we decided.

We are gonna have to trade out the mini van for something more like this.  We are gonna have six kids!














April 5th, 2012
Maybe my hysterics are founded. This morning, a few short hours after our Decision I received an email from the agency Another family is interested in the girls. What should I tell them?

I called Hubs freaking out. What if we missed our chance?! What if our delay meant we blew it?!
He said "I already talked to them. I told them to tell the family to back off, they are ours.  We may just be starting to feel giddy about this.


April 10th, 2012

Homestudy is completed, sent in, agency approved, referral officially accepted. Pictures printed, they are in every room of our house. The four children know and are getting pumped. Samantha is beside herself, and Cookie is on board.  Dossier still looms. Some education requirements still loom. Gotta get this done so we can get submitted to court.  It's a little staggering, we just cut out 12-30 months of an adoption process: the Waiting For Referral. Gone. Boom. These kiddos, if things go really smoothly, could be in our home before the end of the year. We started thinking back in January that we might want one more child by summer 2013.  Now that I think about it I don't know why we even bother making family plans in this house. Praying for our girls. Who are ridiculously lovely, I should add. Praying for no big hiccups.

April 14th, 2012

Two days ago, we received our dossier pack from the agency. I opened it and almost threw up. I forgot how daunting that thing is. I emailed Hubs. (Definition of "dossier pack" for those not familiar: a massive binder of required documents that must be notarized and certified in duplicate and triplicate. It includes statements from banks, doctors, references, police departments, places of employment, birth certificates, marriage certificates, taxes from last three years, lien on house certificates, statements from insurance carriers, just to name a few.)

Me: Dude, good news. Dossier pack is here. Bad news- I looked in the folders and cried a little.
Hubs: Oh, yeah, you shouldn't do that. That paperwork is mine, baby.
Me: Great. I will do the cooking. That is where I shine.

One hour ago Hubs mailed our ENTIRE DOSSIER to the agency. That's right. You heard me. He took less then 48 hours to get every single document we needed collected and notarized. He also mailed out our I-600A application. I think he just broke a world adoption record for shortest dossier compilation ever. For a reference point, last time we took three months to do this. Most people take two to four months. Two days!

We were both ask to speak in church this Sunday. In payment for his hard work the past two days to make this happen, I offered to go ten minutes long on my remarks so he has no time left and thus only has to prepare a short talk.

I am not sure who is getting the better side of this deal, but I am pretty sure it is me.


----

And now we are up to the present. We have two daughters in Ethiopia. Our dossier is not in Ethiopia yet, we still have to hear back from USCIS about fingerprints and whatnot. But our part is just about done. The next few months will be devoted to waiting. Trying to get ready. This means some massive organization, construction to build another bedroom, finding a car that will fit all of us, learning more Amharic, me learning how to use my time better in regards to meal planning and bulk cooking (a friend is going to help me!) and learning more about ESL, developing a plan for educating the girls for the first several months home and maybe beyond, among other things.

We get to send them some letters and packages soon so they will know they have been chosen, that they will be adopted.

Here is a question that is plaguing me: How do you send love, safety, reassurance, understanding and knowledge in a gallon size ziploc bag?

How?

4.17.2012

Marathon Marathon

Taking a break from the adoption news to bring you some highlights from our awesome long weekend. What? You didn't get one?  Well, you should move to Massachusetts, where every few years Patriots Day gives us wonderful weather to accompany the battle reenactments in Lexington and Concord, a Red Sox game and the Boston Marathon.

This year, we decided to tackle the marathon. No, not running it. Just watching it. It was hard work.

Hubsy helping stake our turf along the route. I swear he's gorgeous and can pull off a headband. We got there at 9:30ish. The first wheelers weren't going to come for another hour. But we wanted shade and room to spread out, so better safe than sorry.


Friends I love

Samantha takes her job as a mother very seriously. She packed her dolly, bottles, clothes, blankets.

And baby got a front row seat at the Boston Marathon, 2012.  She already impresses me with her commitment to attachment parenting.

Brady Boy won the honorary "winner of the marathon" by hanging in there for almost five hours with no nap and respectably happy attitude.





Here come the wheels up Heartbreak hill!






I shed tears, we yelled and cheered. It was amazing to watch some of the wheel chairs fly up this hill at mile 20, and others, going foot by painstaking foot. Oh my gosh I just wanted to jump behind some of them and push. It was awesome to behold their determination and strength.

Ready for the elite runners to come!



Gebre didn't win but we hollered like crazy for him.

Tsega caught on to the excitement, and in between elite runners, he darted across the course. I thought he channeled Abebe nicely. (Abebe was the first Ethiopian runner to win the Olympic Marathon, and he did so barefoot.) He said "I run Mama!" Over and over. I tried not to gush.


Sadly, our Ethiopians didn't come in first, but this Kenyan won the whole thing. He was hauling butt up the hill. I have never seen anything like it.


Cookie observing said Mama, most of da runners are not 'Opians. I said, I know. But some of the best runners are 'Opians. Quality, not quantity, baby.
 

Close to trees so the kids could have respite in the shade.


Happy dolls and barbies + mud pie playing girls. Yeah, you can be jealous we got to spend some time with lovely Inventing Liz.


Keeping a sharp lookout for some friends of ours running.

Hey, me in a picture with a friend. This never happens!


Inspiring and perspiring... The 90 degree day gave those of us on the sidelines pause, and made us admire the runners even more!  Come sit with us next year, ya'll. We know a good spot.

4.16.2012

Back in the Saddle Again Part IV


Thanks for staying tuned for the next installment of the quick version of our (second!) Ethiopian adoption. Part III, part II, part I.

February 27th, 2012
After a long weekend of singing Let Go and Just Wait (the theme song for adoption, seriously, I think I am writing it) I finally was able to speak with the agency that listed the waiting sisters. I hadn't slept in three days. I was going bonkers. Are you ready for this?

The other family looking at their file said  No.

I gasped. I might have even told the agency worker "Shut up." I cannot tell you the flutters of excitement and relief. The agency sent us the girls' full info, we showed our SW, and had a medical consult with an international adoption expert at Children's Hospital. And then we prayed. A lot. Went to church. I tried to lay off Hubs so as not to influence his pace, his decision making.  I wanted to. Sitting back and trying to allow him to think is so painful I thought I might burst. But if something like this is supposed to happen, the Universe, God, etc needs to tell him, not me. Heaven knows I am all emotion and hard work. We need his brains and intuition and my sheer brawn to run this ship. It works better this way.

We talked last night until late.

This morning I woke up and asked Hubs, "Were we drunk, or am I remembering correctly that we sorta  maybe decided to adopt two girls from Ethiopia last night?"

He laughed and winked at me. I don't know what that means. Seriously. But I we might be adopting two girls from Ethiopia.

Holy crap.


We had five documents notarized this morning, signed a whole slew of stuff over the weekend. There is so much more to do. Old agency is gone.  Apparently agencies with waiting children is way more our cup o' tea.  I am new to this, but I gonna go out on a limb and highly recommend it. Time to start their education requirements.

Still trying to stay emotionally detached. Our family might not be right for them. For a lot reasons. But starting to think about hoping.


March 27th, 2012

It has been almost five weeks since we had this feeling we might adopt those two girls.  We've done some major soul searching, educating ourselves on older child adoption. We'd had set backs, doubts and more information and insights. It has been discouraging and difficult process. I thought this whole "adopt from a waiting child list" thing would be so cut and dry. Isn't that hilarious? Why on earth would anything related to building a family in such a out-of-the-norm way be cut and dry?

I thought that that "sign," that excited peaceful feeling, would some how be the Be All and End All of the decision process. But that is not how we work as a couple. Crap, that isn't even how life works. There has been so much to consider. And it has been a little agonizing at times. As of today, print outs of their pictures and information still sit on our night stands, and the girls grace our thoughts and prayers every day. When adopting out of birth order, and going from four kids to six, it isn't obvious if this is a good situation. Maybe it would be obvious to some other family. To some families this is a no brainer yes; some other families it's a no brainer no. But it hasn't been completely obvious to us what to do. 

And feeling in middle ground, not moving forward, not moving on has been a test of faith for me. I am an all or nothing kinda of girl.

When I think about the future with six kids, it might not be pretty or perfect all the time. Or ever. It might be WAY harder than we are expecting (though I can assure this journal we have done some homework about adopting kids out of birth order and we have some harrowing, sobering tales guiding our expectations at this point). Sometimes over the last few weeks we have felt like God is saying If you do this, I will support you and help you and bless you. But it's up to you. 

What a strange feeling. It's up to us. Is adopting them what is best for them, for our kids here at home? Us as a couple?



March 29th, 2012
Final meeting with social worker to conclude home study is today. She is coming and we haven't fully unpacked from a vacation. There are piles everywhere.  Our couch is covered in cat hair and crumbs, and guess what?  I won't have time to vacuum. Cat hair and crumbs are the least of our problems if we are going two adopt older kids and I think our social worker is well aware of this. Bring on the lint roller and a big whoopty doo.

Wow, this is different the second time around. Spotless is for the Me that had two kids who never got into anything. Here is the new Me. The girl who stayed up until almost 3am the night before a visit with her social worker with girlfriends for a cupcake birthday party. I won't be showering. I will be putting on the same clothes I went to bed in. I will try to remember to brush my hair before SW shows up. I think I am feeling discouraged that we might not adopt the girls and this step is feeling less exciting and more a burden.  Hubs is feeling positive.  He does not subscribe to angst. Thank goodness, because I do.

I just wish we could figure this out.

...to be continued...

4.13.2012

Back in the Saddle Part III

I can't say no to Semi-Feral Mama. Who claims I am being annoying. So here is another installment getting us all up to speed on our second Ethiopian adoption adventure. Part II here. Part 1 here.


January 30th
Tonight Cookie admitted with tears in his eyes he wasn't sure he wanted a new person in our house. The concept of a stranger joining our family is very scary to him, and I was so proud he was able to articulate it. We talked about how important he is as the oldest son, our biggest brother, and how that role cannot and will not change. 

We talked about how it's going to be awhile before she comes. That he is getting close to four, but he might be five years old before she gets here.  

I told him that I know there is another kid who is supposed to be in our family, and how when we are all having fun together, I miss this child. I told him I felt the same way about him, when I just had Samantha before he was born, I thought about him all the time.

I told him that when I just had Samantha and him, in fact, even when he was still in my tummy I thought about Tsega, and started filling out adoption paperwork, while I laid flat in my room on bed rest while he grew in my belly. I was thinking about who is still missing.

This made him laugh and he wiped away his tears.

He laid his sweet head in my lap and I asked him if I could say a prayer. He nodded and closed his eyes while I rubbed his head.

Heavenly Father
We are so lucky to have Cookie in our family.
He is such a good brother and a good boy.
Will you please help him to feel peaceful about another sister? Will you help him to know that things will be OK with a new kid in our family? Will you help us love each other, and get ready for her to come? Will you help him to learn to love her? 
Will you help us get ready to be a good family for a child who has been through hard things?

My sweet sensitive boy relaxed in my arms. 
Mama, what if she needs you to hold her? I need you to hold me.

Cookie, I will always hold you. Even when you're a grown up, if you want me to hold you I will hold you. Sometimes with lots of kids we have to take turns, but being your mom is my favorite thing to do and be, so don't worry, I won't get tired of it.

#layinggroundwork


February 5th 2012
Big day.
First meeting with the social worker for our home study and a chat with the adoption agency that listed the child.
The meeting with social worker went well. I only cried once.
We talked about family, and balance.
She asked me now that we are finally getting into a routine and finding a sense of normalcy, if I was nervous about the prospect of throwing it all off again. Going to square one with an unknown family member, adding in more chaos.

I had to think for a moment. I told her that something I've learned in the last two years is that there is no such thing as smooth sailing.  A goal in life should never for be for things to get easy, because it will never get easy. Life is just going to get more complicated. This is it. The level of silliness, craziness, unpredictability is now something I accept and work with. It doesn't feel chaotic most of the time, it just is.

So this desire we have to parent another child, for us, it doesn't make a lot of sense to wait five or six years. We are in this now. We are raising these kids, who are close in age. They are friends. We aren't looking for perfection. We aren't under any delusion that it won't be difficult. But I personally have a higher tolerance for unpredictability that is the constant companion of the joy that comes with learning who these little people are and hopefully helping them reach their potential.

I believe routine, and stability can come. But there will always be bumps. A family that large (7!) cannot always be in sync. But it's so very fun. It is wildly rewarding. It's the kind of family I want. Unconditional love, no matter what you do, where you come from, what you're dealing with, what mistakes you make.

So yeah, I told her I was nervous. But so excited too.  I can't speak for Hubs and the other children, which is why she plans on asking them all the same question.

In regards to speaking with that agency about the child on Rainbow Kids, I found out child's name. The blank faced graphic in place of a photo + file number just became a person. A little girl with some medical needs keeping her from a family. She has a gorgeous name. I kinda wish they hadn't told me because the mother in me wants to jump on a plane, give her a hug and tell her she can come live with us.

But we are far away from being ready to pursue an adoption, for her or anyone else. Paperwork looms. And frankly, we still are trying to understand what certain special needs entail and if we can handle them as a couple. We need to wrap our minds around things.
But this kinda thing gets real real fast.
We have soul searching to do.
And all of a sudden, urgency fills my heart.
This child we will adopt, needs a family. Like, yesterday.


February 14th, 2012

Got our second meeting with social worker out of the way yesterday. Letters of recommendation will be in soon. Birth certificates sought. Hubs and I spoke about the little girl. And we didn't feel great about adopting her for some reason.  It's a humbling process, this. Feels terrible sometimes, exhilarating other times. And four days ago I saw a listing for another child waiting for a family. And that child also has a sister. Two girls. Two of them. And my heart did the "stop scrolling" thing. This came exactly three hours after a friend emailed me a quick note "I saw a listing for two siblings and thought of you."

I responded resolutely and immediately to her email No, just one this time. We've done two at a time and it's no picnic; it is more a lunch in a house of horrors: kinda fun, mostly scary and stressful. I emailed her back thanks but no thanks.

Then just a few hours later I saw the listing for these sisters. My heart was beating. My palms were sweaty.  The little blurb about them said so much and not nearly enough. And I emailed Hubs right away. He wasn't feeling well and it took him a day to see the link. Once I showed it to him I didn't say a word. Adoption is not the time nor place for a wife to be pushy.

But, it took him no time to arrive on the same page: we could consider adopting these girls, if they still needed a family when we got our paperwork done. It was not the plan. Two is not the plan.  But things got a tad peaceful when we talked about them that night.

At 11pm on a Saturday night, after an amazing dinner out in Boston, we pulled out our home study checklist, old files of our first dossier to refresh ourselves what we might need, we filled out an online pre application with this particular agency, and as soon as I saw it I planned to ignore the internet message that popped up: "Please allow five days for us to process your pre-application."  I gave them until 10am on Monday.

I spoke with two people there, for almost an hour.  After the initial "no cart before horses" talk, we got real. We talked about older child adoption. Out of birth order adoption. Trauma. I think they liked me. We all came away feel like this could be a possibility. But there is another family interested in the girls, and these people have their home study done and dossier in Ethiopia. They might adopt them.  We know we can't be attached. We can't love them. They are not ours to love. But this family might say no. And in the meantime, the next fourteen days are heavily devoted to some serious serious paper chasing . We need doctor's visits, a court decree about Tsega's readoption, we need notarized letters from banks, we need a letter from our medical insurance company saying they will cover adopted children, we need notarized copies of the lease to our house, FBI clearances to name a few.

Our brains are on overdrive. We have to operate with a little urgency knowing these girls might not come to our family.

So how did I phrase our intentions to the adoption agency without coming across as a wacko? We are very interested in adopting these girls, we know it might not work out for a number of reasons, but please know, we are sending in things as soon as we can, and we are motivated. 

I was proud of my slight understatement, but it went over well.  We will find out Friday if this other family is moving forward to adopt them. I might die a little until then, except I can't, because I have a lot of phone calls to make.

The agency sent an email with a list of things we need to send in before they will let us start the dossier. I have it 90% done tonight. I will hopefully be able to mail it all tomorrow. I am sending it priority.


February 17th, 2012 3pm


Me: Hello, this is  Scoopy from Scooping it up (No I didn't actually call myself that). I am calling to inquire about the two sisters we spoke about on Monday. Have you heard back yet from the family who was reviewing their file?

Adoption Worker: Today is their last day, they've had ten days, and we have not yet heard from them. I will be honest here, I was excited speaking with you on Monday. This family does not seem a great fit to me, and I have actually discouraged them from moving forward for various reasons.  But we have not had final word from them.  I will call you when I do. I hope that by the end of the day I can send you the children's full file, even though it's a little out of order because we don't have all your paperwork in, I'd like you to take a look at it and show your social worker since she is the one writing the home study and would need to approve you for a match like this. You are gonna need her on board. 

That was 5.5 hours ago. She hasn't called back yet. Friday is almost over.

...to be continued...

Back in the Saddle Again: Part II

Happy Friday to you all.  Please join me for the time-condensed version of our second Ethiopian adoption. I am continuing to bring myself and yourself up to speed. Part I here.


January 22th, 2012
Yesterday we planned and hosted a massive party for all the adoptive families and Ethiopian friends from our area. I kept thinking about a little girl. Who I hope, will find relief and joy in a party like this someday. But she might not. It might be painful. I have no idea.


January 24, 2012
A late night phone call and subsequent looong chat with a friend has us rethinking our adoption agency. It's complicated and it's not all them, it's also us. My mind is racing. Today in the effort to move a step closer to finding our next child, I was at best a mediocre mother to the existing ones.  Sesame Street and Dinosaur Train and free-for-all pantry raiding prevailed while I read, researched, emailed, and called in knowledge and advice from friends who hopefully will not kill me judge me for even bringing up a second adoption process. Some folks think adopting from ET is too risky at this point. Some people would accuse us of feeding a corrupt system. It's definitely different this time around. It's scarier for a host of reasons far too hard to get into.

I feel blessed by the internet. My friends didn't hold back the advice, and input. And no one yelled at me. The international adoption community on a large scale differs so much in how we see things, what brings us to adoption. But I think I am lucky in that I have tapped into the cream of the crop. My friends have a very low tolerance for unethical $#!% in adoption. They want what is best for children and first families. They don't stand for nonsense. They teach me so much. They have pointed me in some excellent directions.  My mind is slowing down. Time to get to work.



January 26th, 2012
At the advice of a friend, I've been feeding a new addiction. It's called Rainbow Kids. It's a site for prospective adoptive parents and agencies where waiting children, many with medical needs are highlighted in the hopes children who need families will reach families who hope to parent a "harder to place" child. We are realizing more and more this might be us. We still don't have all the answers we want from our current agency, though we haven't written them off. There are some good folks there. But, in the meantime, I peruse waiting kids.

Sometimes my heart breaks wide open and I cry like a maniac. Right now on rainbow kids there are 1171 children who need a family. I wish that list could get whittled down. I wish more people were open to adopting. I who understand the risk involved in adopting a child who has experienced neglect and trauma, and feels that adoption is not for everyone, even so I find myself falling into the trap of feeling anger that not every one will adopt. This whole thing is making me an emotional mess.


Sometimes I skim listings hoping a heavenly sign will come, or a voice will whisper with a bolt of lightening to my brain

           Stop scrolling. This is your kid. Call that agency listed right now and hand them your half done home study. Every month you delay is another month this child spends in an orphanage.

No sign has come. It's only been a few days. Welcome to Crazyville.


January 28th, 2012
Yesterday I sent an email inquiry on a little girl I saw on Rainbow Kids. The agency listed for her is known to prefer families not adopt out of birth order. We clearly are trying to adopt out of birth order. They might tell us No way. Or we may find out more about her medical needs and feel like it's not something we can handle.

I am prepared to deal if the agency doesn't want to work with us. I understand why they have that policy. It's a good policy.

What I am not prepared to deal with is the guilt if we actually start saying "no" to certain disabilities or conditions. I don't know how I can live with myself. Praying for peace. Praying for Hubs and I to know what to do. Revisiting the hope that God will give us some kind of sign with all this stuff.

I am hoping we can meet up with the social worker this week. I am feeling antsy about finishing the home study. We need this out of the way. It is such a big, tiny hurdle on the mountain we must climb to bring another sweet child into our family.

...to be continued...

4.11.2012

Back in the Saddle Again

It's time to start filling in on something I've been hiding from blog land. Starting back in January, with some posts that were never published, you ought to know that we are on the road again. Back in the saddle again. 

January 15th 2012

A new year. Hopeful outlook. Survival mode past (did not know survival mode with adoption/birth of special needs kiddo lasts two years.)

Two envelopes grace the desk in front of us. One from our social worker. Another from our agency. The moment the seal is broken we take pen to hungry little blank spaces

names
address
social security number
alias
place of birth
place of marriage
place of employment
tax information
medical history
previous adoptions
arrests or convictions...

As these spaces are are filled one by one, the same exact feelings surface from last time we did this.  First, my brain screams that Every Human Who Is Capable Of Reproducing Should Have To Fill Out This Paperwork!

I think somewhat sarcastically We as humans who wish to parent or even think about taking the risk of becoming parents via intimacy should have to get fingerprinted for background checks first.  We should require ourselves to ask repeatedly, - document by document- the way adoptive parents must 
Can I do this? 
Should I do this? 
Am I prepared? 
Do we have a support system?  
Who will help me if things get hard? 

Can we provide for a child?
Do I seek counseling for difficulties? 
Are we up to date on on child support payments? 

Do I understand this child could have medical problems or delays at birth or sometime far far in the future that I can't plan for and am I OK with this risk? 


The gravity of the entire undertaking of Parenting is lacking in the world I think. In international adoption, the seriousness is gracefully shoved down our throats via mounds of documents.

A few pages in, more emotions bubble up as the questions tap a natural spring of Fear. Nerves. Heartache.
Specify age range request
Gender
Special needs?
What kind of special needs could you consider: neurological, skin conditions, heart defects, history of malnutrition, history of abuse, missing limbs, deformed limbs, clubbed feet, cleft palate, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, hearing loss, totally blind, partially blind,
HIV+, hemophilia, hepatitis...

This is the part that feels a little wrong. Like playing God somehow. But we forge ahead. It's not as though we haven't thought about this a hundred times over. We check and check, all the while gut checking.

We have been thinking about another child from Ethiopia since before we stepped from the jet way in the Bole Airport in Addis Ababa on to the plane headed for the US. Baby Boy Tsega, so tiny and scared and almost silent in our arms. Even in the craziest moments of the last nineteen months we, I, have always felt like someone is missing.

The feeling comes while we are getting ready for dinner. Four plastic kiddie plates? Are we sure that is all we need? 

Or when we are dancing and laughing. I look around asking myself Is everyone here?

There is a hole in my heart.  The urgency has never wavered despite the last almost two years of adventures. There is a space at our table. We have room in this nut house.


Today after a proud few weeks of cleaning up my eating habits I ate four times an appropriate amount of cookie bars. I was trying to medicate away the elephants in the rooms of my soul: We have a daughter. About 6, or 7, 5, or 8, exact age is a ridiculous thing to harp on in Ethiopia.

She could be with her family about to face the worst thing that ever happened to her. It's a sick, hideous irony that I know it's coming and I can't stop it. It may take us a very long time to find her. Or it could be soon.

She may be so hurt from her experiences that her healing may take years. Or her whole life.  The "balance" people seek in their family may never come to us after she comes home. She may always struggle. Our love might not stick. She may need therapy. She may need medical attention. She may not bond with her siblings the way we hope. She may forever feel anxious, alone, undeserving of love.

I am scared for her. I am scared for us. Yet somehow every cell in my body, every atom yearns to be her mother.

Please, God, send angels to protect her heart. To help her get through this. To fill her with confidence that she will be OK.


Help us to be the kind of family she needs. Help us help her pick up the pieces. Her sister Samantha has fought for her. Please let Samantha's love bless her and be a balm to her soul. Please qualify me to be the kind of mother she needs. Please fill me with the endless patience it will take to be the mother to five children.

I ate too much today to force these thoughts away. It didn't help.


January 17th, 2012
Not so long ago, (2009 to be exact) we waited for a referral for two babies from Ethiopia. God laughed at us, and I became pregnant. We had our two babies all right. One of them was Habesha and the other was White and that was the weirdest feeling a White woman has ever felt: Looking at her baby that matches her and thinking "he was supposed to be darker."

The other baby we waited for went to another family. He or she wasn't supposed to come here. In a strange and twisty and perfect string of events the space in our family for this next daughter was carved out by a loving God, who like me, knows what will happen to her. Instead of stopping it, as we might hope He would, he instead has prepared us to be the plan B for her.

He never meant her to have to be with us. But he meant us to be ready for her because he knew she would need us. Does this make sense? I am still trying to make sense of it.

Fingerprints mailed off for the first round of FBI background checks. Applications sent. Home study begun.

Here we go again. 

*The story continues here.

4.10.2012

Twist and {Don't} Shout

Today I was reading the back of the dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds from Schmostco, and I really thought it listed as an ingredient sugar,cocaine, milk...  On my double take I saw it was merely cocoa, but I am still not sure it doesn't have some addictive narcotic in those things. The kids have been driving me bonkers lately with intense physicality. I am feeling more like a referee than a mother sometimes.


In an effort to combat all the testosterone in the house which I believe is in part responsible for the aggressive, loud, dis-regulated, crazy pants, violent play time, I have started to do yoga with my kids. The first time I tried leading them through some poses it went over shockingly well.  So we invited friends over and now we lead a mommy/child yoga class in my dining room every Friday.  Sometimes my kids throw attitude at me and don't participate, but when things get nutty other times of the week, I remind them to breathe. And sometimes, just sometimes, it actually works.

They pause. Calm down a little. That makes it all worth it. Here are some little yogis demonstrating their practice.

Child's pose




Cat


Cow


Downward dog




Cobra


Tree




Triangle

 

Lion


Boat


This lovely book has inspired my children's yoga practice and it was nice for them to see Mom isn't a loon, I didn't make these poses up.

The beautiful words reinforced the peace and connectedness that I am trying to teach them while we practice yoga. Heaven knows I need it. (And a big thank you to my friend Karen for giving us this book!)

And if I make the Friday class just hard enough and turn up my heat, I get a teensy little work out, which is always a bonus.

Namaste! Come on by if you want to join in the fun.