Archive for the “Kids & Family” Category

Other than a new living room floor, not much new is going on here. Kinda nice, kinda boring 🙂  The carpet was cheap and ugly and I never liked it. I just needed a good excuse to get rid of it. And since we have a new-ish puppy that liked to pee in one corner and liked to snag and chew it, I figured that would work! We put in a pine wood laminate and it makes the room look so much bigger.

Gab’s in 8th (which also means high school next year!!) and Pierce is in 1st grade (just really starting school). They’re both playing soccer again this year through AYSO. Pierce isn’t competitive at all so he just follows the other kids around. But Gab really gets into it; they’re both fun to watch.

Mili is doing better with food. She’s learning to take little bites instead of stuffing her mouth and she’ll hand us her plate and cup when they’re empty and says, “All done!”  She will still attempt to steal someone else’s food if it’s left around, but hopefully she’ll grow out of that. I know she’s not hungry but it’s tough when she still insists (especially when we’re at a restaurant). There’s times I feel like people are saying, “People, feed your hungry kid!” but I can’t listen to my own paranoia; I just have to do what I know I have to do and ignore wondering eyes. Or throw fries at people….I suppose that would be funner….

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So things have been going well with Mili. She’s talking, walking, has a few more teeth, understands what we tell her (and if she disagrees, she lets us know that, too).
The older kids have taken to her like a duck to water. She has truly become “one of the kids.” She just blends right in.
We still have a couple food issues though. She will eat until she bursts. She doesn’t seem to know when to stop eating. It’s definitely worrisome, and we hate being the bad guys by telling her no to more food. But we do.
She loves the pool; I take the kids on average 4-5 days a week for about an hour each time. Each of them has changed a lot with water. Pierce can swim for a few feet, Dean kicks all over the place in his round floatie, and Mili has one she sits in and can kick around. It’s been fun so far.
Right now Ethiopia is going through a drought/famine…and things weren’t great before. I’m happy to have her out of a situation like that, but my heart breaks for the other people there. I wish we could do more.
But, things are great here. I have to be thankful for that. Gab just got back from spending a month with cousins. So things are rolling along.

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Here’s a time line of our adoption process. There were times it felt longer and others shorter, but I think it’s fairly decent.

January 19, 2010—Decided to adopt

January –Mailed out application to first agency

March 10—Denied through agency (religious differences)

March 12—New application to new agency (West Sands Adoptions)

March 17—Began home study

March 24—Approved by West Sands Adoptions

June 30—Home study complete

July 1—Mailed dossier (to UT for authentication) & the I-600a to USCIS

July 19—Dossier on its way to D.C. & the Ethiopian Embassy

July 20—Heard back from USCIS (unfortunately, we had to reschedule the time they gave us for fingerprinting)

July 26–Dossier arrived in Ethiopia

September 7–Received USCIS approval/I-171H

September 23–Received referral

December 21–Court date in Ethiopia — first trip

March 28, 2011–Embassy appointment–second trip, baby came home

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We got word about our second trip, the one where I actually go get our baby and bring her home. We are leaving in just a couple days and I’m such a bag of mixed emotions!

Obviously I’m very excited. We’ve waited a long time for a little girl. I’m excited to have her home and show her the animals and brothers (sometimes I get confused which is which).  I’m excited to introduce her to friends & family who have been along for the ride with us, in all its ups and downs.

But I’m really nervous, too. I’m not looking forward to lugging all the luggage around the airports. I have 2 rubbermaid tubs full of donations, 1 suitcase full of donations, my suitcase with clothes for me & Mili, snacks for Mili, and other stuff, a diaper bag, my jumbo travel purse/bag & Gab’s carry-on-size suitcase with all her stuff. I’m nervous about the 17-hour plane trip home. What if Mili screams the whole time? What if she throws up the whole time? Or Gabby for that matter. I am bringing dramamine & benadryl, just in case. But still….

I’m worried a little. I’m worried she won’t be happy for a long time. I’m worried she’ll push us away.

Then there’s Gabby, now 13. She’s going to see so much on this trip. So much poverty, so many orphans. But she’ll see the best of mankind, too. She’ll see people giving all they have to support each other (directors of orphanages) and people working together to give what they have to those that don’t (humanitarian water projects). She’ll get an eye full.

So many thoughts and things to think about! It’s been a wild ride.




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Today is Christmas Eve. We got home yesterday.

Ethiopia is a beautiful country. The people are friendly and nice. Their way of life is very “live and let live” and they care about each other. They don’t sweat the small stuff like we do. Family is a way of life, not just something you have or do. The adults treat the children as if they’re each an amazing person, not a small annoyance that’s running around making noise. And the children are very well-behaved. In these ways, Ethiopia is far superior to the USA.

Sadly, there is huge amounts of poverty. Driving around you can see tiny little huts on the side of roads; families live in these. Some are about the size of your bathroom. They provide shelter and nothing else. These people cook right outside their huts. They clean their clothes in mud puddles. Their small children walk around half naked so they don’t soil their clothes. There are fences and tall gates around homes, some churches, and many semi-private areas (like guest houses and businesses).

The orphanages are many. They, too, are surrounded by tall fences. At the top of the fences (which were cinder block or metal), there would be broken glass or barbed wire to keep people out. Each of them has a guard or two to protect the children. The smallest orphanage we visited had about 20 children, 5 or 6 of which were infants. The oldest was a mid-teen. The largest had about 45 kids, 12 were babies. The children are allowed to play. They are taken care of and loved and protected by nannies and “sisters” (nuns). In the baby room in one orphanage, it was obvious when a particular baby would spot their main caretaker. The child would smile and light up. So there is definitely love between the children and caretakers. This made it less heartbreaking. But it was still very sad that all these children didn’t have a true family.

The children were healthy (many had colds and runny noses, but that’s expected where there’s a lot of kids). Of about 100 kids, I saw only one with special needs. We were allowed to go where we wanted to go, but not allowed to take pictures. It’s against the child trafficking laws, so we were more than happy to follow the rules to protect the kids.

We were able to complete the adoption. We now have 4 children. Milinium Grace is going to be called Mili for short. She’s supposed to be 14 months old, but judging from size and development and orphanage, I’m guessing she’s 10 months, 11 months at most. She’s got the chubbiest cheeks I’ve ever seen, curly hair and loves to stick out her tongue.

We go back in the end of February or beginning of March to bring her home. As jet lag wears off, I’ll put pictures up. But I have her pic as my Facebook profile if you’d like to see her 🙂

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Oh, the dreaded potty-training. Visions of wet beds, poopy underwear and soggy bum prints in the car seat.

When we were training Pierce, it was a few months before Dean was born (he was a little over 2 1/2 yrs).  And when Dean made his appearance and so much time and attention went to him instead of Pierce, Pierce’s potty habits regressed. Noticeably.

Dean will be 2 1/2 next month. And we’ll be gone for a week in December and again in January or February. So rather than deal with digression, we decided to wait until after we bring our new baby home. Logical right?

Dean disagrees.

He decided yesterday, he wanted to wear underwear.

I thought, Oh, how cute! Especially after he had them on 30 seconds and immediately took them off and insisted he have his diaper back.

But a few hours later, he wanted his undies back. So, being cynical (since I obviously know everything having trained 2 kids already) I knew it would last, at most, an hour.

He went 5 hours with no accidents. Frequently he’d run over to his little plastic Pooh bear potty and say “Pee!” and go pee. Or not. But he’d try.

Ok, Paul & I thought, this kid is just training himself! He watches his big brother and knows what to do.

This morning, I asked Dean if he wanted new undies from the store. YEAH! he shouted and said, “Blue!” So off we went and bought Toy Story and Cars undies.

He’s had them on all day so far (but since he took a nap in my bed, I did use a diaper then) with no accidents. He didn’t even pee in the diaper during nap time (though he did during the store trip).

He woke up from his nap and walked to me, undies in hand, grinning.

Amazing…I actually have a kid that is training himself.

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So while the adoption is moving along, there’s always life moving right along with it.

Today was parent-teacher conference day for both Gab & Pierce.

We went to Pierce’s teacher first…I wasn’t sure what to expect. Anyone that knows him knows he’s either fire or ice, black or white, angelic or…well…not so much  😉

I was pleasantly surprised that his teacher said he’s doing very well. He listens well, pays attention, raises his hand, asks for help when he genuinely needs it, is kind to others, shares well, etc. I loved hearing that!! I know he’s smart and he loves to learn. But to hear it from the teacher is amazing. She was surprised he’s never gone to school/daycare/pre-K of any kind.  I had to laugh a bit and really wanted to say, “Yeah, well, there’s other ways to teach a kid…like the mom teaches the kid!”

So the boy earned a donut.

Then we went to Gab’s school…the middle and high schools do conferences differently than the elementary. They just do a walk-in-whenever thing. We wandered around and talked to a few teachers, and I’m proud to say, I was bored slightly. Why?? They said the same thing…”She’s got an A, doing great, pays attention, does her work, studies seriously, etc…”

So it was a great day! I hope they’re as proud of themselves as I am of them.

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Today, our dossier is on its way to D.C. & the Ethiopian Embassy!!

In 2 weeks, it should be in Ethiopia!!!


This basically means in 2 weeks, the official “wait” will begin. Wow…

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I ordered another book, one recommended my our adoption agency. It’s Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best.

This one is a little more up-beat and half as thick as the first one. So I’m sure I’ll get through it faster. So far it’s very good, like the other. It has the same theme of how important it is to establish a connection and remember to allow the child to have their past instead of expecting them to “start fresh” which is a common error when people adopt. (that was a long sentence!)

All in all, it’s exciting to learn more.

Oh….a glitch in the previous paperwork…I about had a nervous breakdown! My agency emailed me last week and said 2 of the dossier papers needed to be redone.  *sigh* One is done and taken care of and hopefully I can pull my honey away from work long enough to get the other one done.  Soooo tired of paperwork….

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I really do read books often. Daily. Just because they’re 10 pages long and 5 of those are pictures, doesn’t mean it’s not a book 😉

But since there’s not much more we can do for the adoption right now, I decided to get a book with actual pages/chapters in it to read. It’s called Parenting the Internationally Adopted Child.

This book discusses the challenges that come with an IAC (internationally adopted child), such as dealing with their background (loss, grief & confusion) and ways to help the child cope and connect to their new family.

Some of the stories of the children are so scary and so, so sad. One was of a 2-year-old boy. He and his newborn baby brother went to live with their grandparents. Shortly after this, the grandmother died. The grandfather began to drink so heavily, he was incapable of parenting the boys. So this toddler fed and took care of himself and baby brother for about a year, until they were taken away. Can you imagine a 3-year-old taking care of a 1-year-old??? I look at Dean, who just turned 2 and it just seems impossible. But those survival skills kicked in for the boy and he did what he had to.

One of the biggest initial challenges we’re going to face is for the child to trust us and rely on us for care. It may sound simple enough, but when a child has learned to trust, and the caretaker was removed, time and again, the child just doesn’t know who’s going to be taken away and doesn’t emotionally settle in.

So, family/friends reading this….when the time comes, please don’t think we’re being snobbish when we don’t let you help with the child or encourage her to go to you. We’re just trying to build a connection, trying to let her know we’re the parents. Then it’ll go from there. AND, I encourage anyone who knows a family with an IAC to read the book.

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