Saw a friend they other day that I never really see anymore (I haven't been to the gym in like a year!). We were just crossing paths briefly and she asked me how the transition home had been and I said it had actually been pretty hard. She smiled, a little confused, and said, "Really, because it seems from the outside looking in that it has been wonderful and smooth." (the lie of Facebook) It has been wonderful, amazing, right, but smooth, easy? Not at all.
She said, "If you could give me 3 words to sum it all up, what would they be?"
Stumped me. It can't really be summed up in three words. Mostly because all three words that jumped to my mind were negative sounding words, and this has not at all been a negative experience.
I have said this before, and I will say it again. This has been hard. Crazy hard sometimes. But it has ALWAYS been so GOOD. GOOD. Great even.
So, my three words are these:
Now you might wonder how these things are any different from having a biological child. Every mother to a newborn is exhausted. There is (at least for me) always a grief when things change. Most new moms go into a bit of a hibernating mode so you are typically isolated for a time (though my hibernating mode was typically over by the time I got out of the hospital). I had three kids already - didn't I know to expect that these things would happen?
Well, yes, I did, but not these things on steroids multiplied times a million. I don't really talk about this stuff much outside of my adoption community (except to my closest peeps), because frankly people just don't get it. You get such lovely comments like, "Well you are the one that chose to do this, so don't complain about it." or "Why do they have to be treated different than other kids - just let them cry, or send them to nursery and let someone else deal with them for a while." It is fine that people who haven't walked this process don't get it, they don't have to, but I also don't have to listen to their comments :-)
So, exhaustion. The actual process of adoption if grueling. I was pregnant for like 2 years! It is grueling physically because try as you may, you can't help but be consumed by the waiting for your child. Emotionally - it takes a huge toll on you. The longing, the waiting. Then you are referred this little child who is on the other side of the world and the feelings of powerlessness are consuming. They are often sick with little medical care, and you can't even be there to hold them. You get to go and spend a week with them, and then you have to leave them again to wait for the powers that be to go through your paperwork again and pray that all is in order so the process doesn't become even longer. All the while your child sits in an orphanage (even the nicest orphanage is still an orphanage), and you pray that they are growing, being fed, being held, etc. Emotional exhaustion.
Then they come home and they don't sleep - they are sick, you have a million dr. appt's, ER visits, and they take a million vials of blood and some things come up positive. They scream in terror and you are no comfort to them - you are a stranger who has taken them from the one place and the people that they know. They are up all night, throwing up, pushing you away. Sometimes you have a honeymoon period where it seems like all is going well...we never had that. She screamed from the moment she saw us walk into the transition home. We got some smiles, but lots of screaming. She was up every 45 minutes for what felt like the first months of forever.
While there is still some of this going on, it has gotten better for now. Though I expect we will re-visit this as anniversaries of certain things come up. Exhaustion.
Grief. I grieved my family changing with every biological child I had. I grieved going back to the baby stage (I am not a baby person). I did have some of that grief when we brought her home. Some of that "life would be pretty easy right now if we hadn't just brought a baby into the family", but that isn't the type of grief I am talking about. I did grieve, but I grieved for her. Also for her birthmother who had become a name that was daily on my lips in prayer and became my sister in heart though she will probably never know that.
Grief for my sweet daughter though. Every time I was up all night rocking her while she screamed and turned her head away from me, I cried out for healing for her little heart. I begged for the grief and fear inside her to turn into trust. I cried that I didn't get the first 6 months of her life. I cried for the things she would never get back, a family, a culture, an amazing country. On the day she was baptized I cried that her birth mom couldn't be there to see it. I grieved for the looks our family got, though she is still too young to see the stares - even the curious, smiling stares can still be invasive. I was prepared for that for our family, and hopefully will be prepared to help her walk through however that will feel to her when she gets old enough to realize. I grieve when she screams out in pure fear and terror at something that should be no big deal and wonder if there is trauma that causes that response. Some shadow in her brief past that causes that fear. There is a lot of grief in adoption.
Isolation. I think this one was the hardest because it felt personal. I knew we would cocoon for as long as we needed to to make our daughter feel comfortable and attached to us. I knew we would withdraw from the world for a while. I prepared and talked to the friends around me and felt comfortable doing that. We cocooned the best we could (as in I have 3 other kids, came home February 10 and had to be at my daughter's V-day party on February 14!). We did withdraw from much of our daily life and nested in our home trying to make things as calm as we could for her so she could get to know us and feel safe with us. I expected and wanted all that to happen. We had some people in our lives that loved us so well. Brought food, called almost daily to check on me. Came over at nap times or after bed to sit and talk with me, just let me cry on the phone or on their shoulder, take my other kids to play or watch them while I went to the 10th dr. appt of the week. But we also had people in our life that just dropped off the face of the earth. People that didn't seem to have the patience to wait out our intentional withdrawal from the social scene and just moved on. That felt very isolating, but also very freeing. Cocooning is a choice you make and we knew that going into adoption. We knew that we would have people fall out of our lives because of the choice we made, and we were OK with that.
So, it has been hard. Hard for me, hard for my marriage, hard for my other kids (though they are so crazy in love with her and have been from day 1). But oh my word, the good. The joy. It is so good. I would not go back and change any of it. Knowing that it was going to be hard, I would not not do it again. I would do it again right now...today (though we aren't and may never I don't know).
I finally got around to reading Kisses from Katie and one of the things that I loved about that book was when she talked about the time right after she moved to Uganda. She talked about the absolute joy and peace she had every day, knowing she was making the right decision, knowing that God had put her right there, and then at night she would break down with loneliness, fear. She wondered which was how she was really feeling. How could she be so depressed and fearful at night, when during the day she KNEW that what she was doing was exactly what she was supposed to be doing. Then she realized that both are true. She was BOTH overjoyed and overwhelmed, both peaceful and frightened.
How can something be so VERY HARD, but also so VERY GOOD? I am not sure I understood this until I went through this process.
We have come a long way in 10 months for sure, and still have a long way to go. So thankful.
I have been thinking lately how much of a "smeller" I am. I have long been defined as an F (feeler), and though I try not to let my "feelings" lead me as I know they are not always an accurate thermometer of truth, I am still a Feeler.
I am also a smeller, and those "smellings" have recently brought me to some big feelings. Hard emotions, joyful emotions. Smells that have taken my breath away and brought me to my knees.
A few weeks ago I pulled out a t-shirt to wear, pulled it over my head and was overwhelmed by the smell of the Riviera Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had not worn it since then, and it had been washed at the hotel, and oh the smell. The spice incense sort of smell, the dusty sort of smell. I long for that place (not the Riviera, but Ethiopia). I long for it for me, for my kids, and for my sweet daughter. That led me to a small ziplock bag with tiny little clothes in it. When we picked Ribka up from her orphanage, one of the first things I did was take off her clothes, put them in a sealed ziplock bag so they would keep their smell. I took just a small sniff of her clothes, just to remember, to long, to rejoice, to be overwhelmed with thanksgiving that she is here, but so sad that she is not there. One day...
The other smell is so bitter sweet. The smell of my Dad. It has been almost 3 years since he died, but oh how I want so much to bury my face in his shirt, feel him hug me, and smell him. He always smelled so good. He smelled clean, and like whatever cheap cologne my great-aunt Ruth had bought him. I was standing at the deli counter last week when an older man brushed past me and stood a few feet away. The wake of his walking past was the overwhelming smell of my Dad. It wasn't just his smell, but he looked like him too. A "big" presence, business attire, fancy cellphone in hand, talking way too loudly. I wondered if he would notice if I stood a little too close to him, just so I could smell him. Honestly I wondered if he would notice if I put my forehead on his back and just rested it there a moment while I smelled him (weird I know). Then this morning as I was taking a walk, I was huffing and puffing up a big hill, and a little old man walking his dog passed going down, smiled and said good morning and left me in the wake of his older man cologne smell. I made it to the top of the hill before I broke down. I miss him, I really do. I sort of never thought I would, as our relationship was more than a little complicated, but I guess a little girl never stops longing for her daddy.
Seriously if someone had asked me if we would make it to 6 months home, and Ribka turning 1 year old today, I might have laughed right in their face - just before I burst into tears, which I did often the first 3 months home! My goodness, it is hard. HARD...but so amazing.
These 6 months have been incredible, in every way, swinging on a pendulum to"what have we done" to "I am ready to do this again today!" She is one of the brightest spots in my day, and also one of the most draining physically and emotionally. Trying to love her where she is, hurting for where she is, praying for what she will become, longing for healing, it is all so much; and I am so blessed and honored to get to walk with her through it.
She is funny and smart and loves to play peep-eye. She is pulling up and cruising on everything, but no first steps yet, she signs for more and all done, she has names for all of us (though most people would not understand them): the obvious DaDa and MaMa, Daniel is De-doo, Kate is Kay-Kay, and Micah is Kah-Kah. She smiles, waves, and says "Hi" to most people she meets but doesn't like you to get too close as she is very attached to Mommy. She can hardly be told no because she has 3 rescuers that run to her every whimper and hold her when I tell her no. She will cry and they all look at me like I am the meanest person ever to tell her no she can't chew on the outlet plugs! She has a screech that gives you chills and makes you shake a little - we call her the Pterodactyl. But oh she is gives the best hugs and the most amazingly sloberry open mouth kisses as she says "Ahhhhh....". She loves for you to crawl behind her like you are chasing her, she gives great belly laughs when tickled or playing clapping games, and puts everything, everything in her mouth. We are so blessed to have her!
Here are a few peeks into our last few months!
Getting our two bottom teeth!
Playing in the little pool outside
Fun at the beach
Pulling up on everything
Love being outside - camping at the Cabin
Getting to hangout with some sweet AGCI friends and meet some of their kids!
First trip to Krispy Kreme!
Not too sure about this birthday cake thing!
Thankful for all that have and continue to walk alongside us in this journey!
There have been several things in the past few weeks that have made me miss my Dad. It has been almost 3 years since he died, and it is still weird. Which is also weird, because he was not that present (physically speaking).
I had a man come to my house who is running for the State House of Representatives, and he knew my Dad. Then while at the used Library book store, I ran across a book of Tennessee Politics that had pictures and pages of info about my Dad in it. Kate and I were about to leave when I saw it sitting upright on the table and thought to myself, 'I bet my Dad is in that book', and he was. I opened it up to a picture of him, and laughed out loud in the library which got a look from the librarian who came over to ask me if everything was OK. When I told her that my Dad was in that book, she looked at me like I was a bit crazy! As we were leaving my perceptive little Kate took my hand, seeing the tears in my eyes, and asked me if I missed him. I hugged her, and told her how he always thought she was so pretty, and said that she looked just like me.
I think one of the biggest ways I grieve for him is that he never got to meet Ribka. Even though I know he did not understand my leaving all what used to be me (law school, career, politics, etc.) behind when I became a Christian, got married, had kids, I always knew that he was proud of who I was, and he never failed to tell me so or encourage me. He delighted in my kids, and would have loved her. I can see him holding her and making some stupid comment about her looking like him. Wish he could have met her.
Amazing....I confess there have been times I was unsure we would make it to 3 months home. Oh, I knew we would, I have probably felt that way about all 3 of my other kids as well - will I ever sleep again, will i ever get to go to the bathroom without hearing my name (still very there), will I ever get to take a shower every day again, will i , will i, will i????? Very "I" centered isn't it :-) (that isn't the point of this post!).
If I had to sum up the past 3 months in 2 words they would be "JOYFULLY PAINFUL".
I can't even tell you the joy I have had in my little flock of 4 with the added addition. The beauty that strikes me so hard as I look into her soulful little brown eyes, the sweet pride I feel as I gaze upon one of my other kiddos running to her rescue when she tips over and the love they have for her, the amazement as I have watched her change, grow, start to catch up developmentally in places that she was a little behind, ATTACH (whew that is a BIG one!), love to look into my eyes as much as I love to look into hers, see her face LIGHT UP when her daddy gets home from work, watch her try out new textures of food (and spit a lot of it out). Most of these are are things I have gone through with my other 3, but for some reason it feels very different, more monumental, somehow. Maybe it is because I fought and waited for her for so long, maybe it is because I missed the first 6 months of her life. I don't know, but it is different. Here are a few recaps of the past couple of months:
She could not sit up - like at all, or put weight on her legs - now all she wants to do is jump on my lap!
To go from not ever really having been on her belly and pretty much unable to raise her head of the ground to this - being on all fours and getting ready to take off!
From being below the 3rd percentile for weight, and length, to now slightly over the 25th percentile - she has gained about 6 pounds and 6 inches in just 3 months!
To get to be there and stand with her as her parents for her baptism was sweet, so very sweet. To think for a second that I would have missed out on that had we not said Yes to God's call for us, is unimaginable.
We are learning lots about hair, we are learning lots about each other, and I continue to be AMAZED that we have been blessed with her. So much JOY!
But oh the PAIN! She continues to grieve at times, and I know there are times that I am just not getting it right - that there is something that she needs/wants that is just not me. Those times that she pushes away to avoid contact (though they are rare now). As we venture out of our cocoon a little and I see the way she gets a little freaked out by something totally new, I am reminded of all that has changed in her little life. The times that we encounter a new person that gets a little too close and she leans her little head into me. The times that a good and very familiar friend has held her and Ribka has lost sight of me briefly and I can see the fear of "where is my mommy" and I am reminded of the several times that has been a very real fear that has come true for her.
The medical part of this journey has been a bit of a nightmare though we are on the other side of that part for now. The exhaustion of ER visits, TOO many trips to multiple doctors, the screaming tears as she is poked over and over to take blood or stool or urine, and tears run down my face as I hurt for her and know that I can't make it stop - only just hold her through it and pray over her.
The sleepless nights...sigh...
Being in battle - yes battle. I was told by numerous people to get ready. To be prepared for my family to be attacked after we brought her home. I smile and nod my head - I have plenty of battle wounds, surely bringing home this precious child could not be any worse than some of those. But this hasn't been a battle that I have been fighting for myself - but for my family, for my husband, for my other kids, and for my newest daughter. Fighting for those you love the most is much harder that fighting for yourself. The scars of watching them struggle, of one by one some big thing happening in their life - right down to my 3 year old. Pain, tears, fear, exhaustion. I have clung to God in ways I have never experienced as I have cried out for my kids, as I have over and over again laid them each one at Jesus's feet begging for mercy.
Even such beautiful things like Ribka's baptism. As I sat rocking her to sleep that morning so she could get a brief nap in before we left for church, as I prayed over her on that special day, I was also praying for her birthmother. Sad that she could not be there for that day. Longing to be able to share it with her in some way.
It has been an amazing 3 months...amazing in every way. From the ecstatic Joy to the cries for Mercy. God has shown up at every place, ready and willing to walk with us, carry us, redeem us, promises to heal the broken places.
In the last months of the adoption process, and probably daily since coming home, I have listened to and clung to this David Crowder song called "Never Let Go". (it will be on our adoption video if I ever get around to making one!). You won't regret taking a second to listen to it.
So thankful for the many sweet friends that have walked along side us on both sides of the journey. Friends that have called me, brought us dinner, taken my other 3 kids, cried with me, prayed for us, sent me text to remind me of God's love and care for my family.
Even though it has been very hard, I would not change any of it really. The pain only makes us cling more, it only makes us see the beauty in the Joy, it only makes us realize how out of control we are, and oh the gratitude - thank you Jesus for a grateful heart. I am so grateful.
You don't get much of the real of being a mom, esp. being a mom to an adopted child. I will, eventually have time to give you more real but for now here is a piece. Some of this is just "there are now 4 kids in the house, and we are adjusting to a new baby" real and some of it is on steroids because she is adopted.
This has been my real this week.
A loneliness that is so present it makes me want to curl into a ball (because this is really hard, but you can't really tell every one that because then you would sound ungrateful and like you wished you hadn't done it - not everyone thinks that hard doesn't equal bad).
A fear and wrestling of attaching to this broken hearted little girl that God is longing to heal.
A baby that I really know little about her health, that has had a horrible cough and snotty nose for about 5 days. A cough that at least once a day covers me in vomit because it is so strong.
A week that started out with an attempt of all 6 of us trying to go out of the house together for the first time in 4 weeks. To church we went. Got there late to sneak in the back so as not to overwhelm our little one with so many new faces. Only to last 20 minutes before she coughed so hard that she threw up all over my new black shirt.
Placing a call to our nurse to see if I should bring her in, and praying that they say no, because all the kids are home from school today, and I can't even change my spit up on shirt, much less get all 4 of us loaded up and to the dr.'s office.
An amazing husband (whose birthday is today!) who spent his birthday night up A LOT with a sick little girl, because I was cramping so badly I knew that if I got out of bed my uterus would fall out.
A husband who, even though I got out of bed and let him sleep a bit this morning and I made him an awesome omelet birthday breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen by himself so it wouldn't be a mess for me after he went to work.
A exhaustion brought on my 5 weeks of only 1-2 hour stretches of sleep at a time (that doesn't include the sleeplessness that led up to bringing her home). I really don't even feel exhausted anymore...except when I do, and then I REALLY DO!
and then there is this post...which is amazing and brings me back to what is REAL.
The other side of this real is this:
A little girl who smiles and bounces wildly when her Daddy gets home from work.
A little girl who now knows where Mommy comes into her room and when I go pick her up from her nap, cranes her entire body in anticipation of seeing me as quickly as she can, and though it is dark in her room and I can only see the white of her eyes at first, I can feel her smile before I turn the light on and reach down to get her.
A little girl who is starting to trust us and turns her body into mine.
A little girl who is starting to really want, and even cry to be held by me instead of wanting to be left alone.
A little girl who sings to me in babble, smiling, and reaching up to touch my face for 30 minutes in the middle of almost every night (OK, I do wish this one happened at 3pm instead of 3am but I will take it).
That is all the small piece I can write for now - I have to bake a birthday cake for my amazing husband!
I know my three bio kids pretty well. I carried them, birthed them, have spent hours with them - learning about them, watching how they tick, how they respond to life. I pretty much could tell you how each one of them would respond to having a new little sister, and I have been pretty much dead on with my assessments. We talked to them, prepared them for how hard it could be for a while. Shared with them some of the things that Ribka might go through, how she might respond to them, and to us.
It has been absolutely one of the sweetest things to watch these three kids that I know so well, bring out little pieces of this little girl that I barely know at all. I have fallen in love with all four of them even more by watching them engage with each other. She has been an amazing gift to our family as I wrote about here, but what a sweet gift these three kids are to her as well.
Daniel, my first born. My intense, super energetic, head in the clouds, brainy, empathetic little guy. He is always busy, always plotting out something in his head, or inventing something, or crying over the ants that I killed or some injustice he has come upon. My prediction was that he would be very interested in Ribka for short burst. That he would do drive by interactions on his way to something else. That has been mostly true. But what I didn't expect is that he would dance in front of her for 10 minutes to make her laugh. That he would tear up when he startled her and made her cry. That he would love holding her. That he would flip her over when I put her on her belly and she would fuss about it. It is precious to see him respond to her.
Kate, my second born. My nurturing drama queen. My super perceptive, wordy little mother who likes to control everything. My prediction was that she would be very interested in the "motherly" type activities like changing her diaper, bathing her, feeding her. That has been true. She has helped with baths, has helped with putting on diapers, and picking out hair bows. But what has blessed me to hear and see is the conversations that she has had with her. As she sits in front of her telling her all about girl stuff - hair bows, etc. Listening as Ribka babbles and acting like she is telling her something really important. The questions that she has asked me about the things that Ribka might be feeling. The way her little body starts bouncing and swaying automatically when she holds her. The way that she has WANTED to share our girl time with her. Love Kate's heart for her little sister (and that she wants to dress alike, and put hair bows in her hair, etc.)
And then there is Micah. My rambunctious, highly physical, highly physically affectionate, overt, funny, VERY boy little guy. I said that if Ribka can survive all the "love" Micah will give her she will be one tough little girl. My prediction was that Micah would not be able to keep his hands off of her, and that he would be all in her space most of the time. We practiced gentle hands and quiet voices double time in preparation for a little sister. He is all that...and more! He seriously is so infatuated with her that he sometimes just can not control the excitement that comes out of him when she is around. He has done great with his gentle hands, gentle hugs. He rubs her head, wants to hug her and hold her at every turn, is interested in ALL things that involve her. He is such a sweet little guy and has said numerous times, "I just want to be next to my best friend, I love her so much." His love for her makes me smile!
I am not naive to think that there will always be this much LOVE going on in the house, but it is really sweet for now!
That is what she is, after all. An amazing gift. We started this journey with a God given desire to reach out, to ACT, to love an orphan and give her a home - to GIVE a gift to someone. What has happened is that we have been given the gift. Isn't that so like the Lord??
We left to go back to Ethiopia to get our daughter almost 2 weeks ago. Amazing how so much happen in just 2 weeks. We arrived late on a Saturday night, ET time, and spent our last night without her in our arms. Sunday morning we woke up READY to go and get our sweet girl. The morning was long, the short ride to the transition home felt like forever, my arms ached for the feel of her. Finally we got there, they brought her out to us and put her in my arms - my arms that had been longing for her, and had not forgotten the feel of her, she smiled for a few minutes,
then...she cried hysterically. Cried and cried, so hard that the special mothers had to take her from my arms and calm her down. The special mother gave her to Matthew, who walked her around outside, not making eye contact, and eventually she feel asleep in his arms and he held her for a long time. I could not even talk to her or she started crying! My arms were empty again, and I was a little shocked - she had LOVED me last time, didn't she know I was her mommy, couldn't she feel my more than capable arms that have loved and cared for 3 other kids, couldn't she sense my love for her? But in the place of that "wanting it to be all nice and comfortable and a joyous reunion" grew a broken compassion that I had touched on, but not yet fully grasped. Our presence there was about to rock her world. Turn it upside down. She had already once felt the loss of her mother's arms, now I was about to take her out of the arms of the special mothers that had been caring for her for the last 4 months.
I, mentally, had been prepared for this. Taken the hours upon hours of education courses on it, been briefed and talk to by my case worker on the ins and outs of what it could look like, but I think in my mind I really just thought, "Oh, she is only 6 months old, is she really going to be feeling all that? How can a 6 month old really express that much grief?" My heart broke over and over for her as the weight of just what all she had gone through in the past 6 months, and was about to go through, washed over me like a flood. We stayed there a brief time, then we loaded back up in the van to go back to the hotel where we would be mostly room bound for the next 5 days as we bonded and attached to our daughter. The grieving continued. She cried on and off (mostly on), for the next 36 hours.
Our case worker had told us that there would be a time about 24 hours after we got her, that she would really focus on our face, and the realization that we were not taking her back to her "home" would hit, and she would be inconsolable for a time. Can you believe it - THAT HAPPENED TOO!! I don't think I really believed it would - after all I am a pretty well educated mom when it comes to taking care of kids. Thinking that anyone that has lived through the kind of colic my 2nd child had, knows all the tricks to comfort even the most distraught baby. I didn't, not even close. As I was giving her a bottle, cuddling her close and her tired, red eyes were closing, she suddenly popped them open a little dazed, and then she focused, really focused in on my face and you could see the reality hit her, the "oh my goodness who is this stranger and why is she not taking me back" look on her face happened only seconds before the saddest cry I have ever heard came forth. She did the same thing with Matthew. He walked out of the bathroom and said her name, and she really LOOKED at him, and lost it, so sad. Heart break over an over. All I could do is hold her close, cry with her, and tell her over and over that I love her, that I will never leave her, that she is forever my daughter.
Things got a little better after that. We spent a lot of time walking outside behind the hotel, we ate when she slept, held her most of the time, slept when she slept, and loved being with her. It was hard, very hard at times, but such a sweet time. As I would be giving her a bottle, and gazing down at her sweet little face, reality would hit me again and again - the heart ache, the pain of her story. Adoption is so beautiful, but it is so broken.
We had Embassy on Monday morning, then on Wednesday we had to go back to the transition home to pick up our paperwork. We had already decided that we would not go back to see the Special mothers because it was so hard to leave the first time, we didn't want to go through that again. When we got there the director was in a meeting so we had to wait at the baby house. All the special mothers came out to see her, took her from my arms, my heart was full of dread at what that might be doing to her, and she cried, cried and cried so I took her back, and she STOPPED!!! She wanted back in my arms - it was hard, but so good to see that she was attaching to us already.
We left at 11:15pm ET time on Thursday night. It was LONG and crazy - our flight got cancelled in Chicago - when we were SO CLOSE! We thankfully got on standby by for the next flight out, so we ended up getting home at 10:30pm Friday night, 36 hours of traveling later. Exhausted but jubilant to be home and have our entire family together!
I feel like this has been an amazing gift to me, to my family. Even the LONG wait has been a gift. My eyes have been opened to so many things, the Lord has broken my heart for his children, and now this sweetest gift of this precious daughter, this sweet gift to my 3 bio kids of this amazing sister. We are enjoying her so much - can't stop kissing her round little face, and I am praying that she can survive the smothering hugs and kisses from her siblings because they can't get enough of her!
I am humbled, honored, READY, overwhelmed, and grateful...oh, so grateful! I still sometimes wake up in the morning and think that all of this is a dream, this entire process made up in my mind. Then the reality hits, I am "having" another baby! I have "carried her" for almost 2 years, and the "labor" for this child has been unlike anything I have ever done. It is an amazing, and extremely hard thing. Wearing me out and building me up daily. Such a mixture of heavy weight, and joy.
We are closing in on this part of this journey - Praise God!! We first saw her sweet face on October 10th, and now 4 months later, we get to bring her home. The reactions of our kids have been the sweetest thing. As we sat them down to talk to them about what it might be like when we bring her home (her sadness/grief/fear, her confusion over what in the world has just happened to her, her missing her special mothers), they were a mixture of bounce out of your seat excitement and trepidation. Would she cry a lot, would she like them, would Mom and Dad still be available to them when they need us - but mostly just excitement. I got the news that we would be traveling soon while they were in school, and when I picked them up from school they got in the car and said, "Well, well Mom, did you hear??" I said, "YES!! and they said that it is time for R to come home - we are going to get her this weekend!". They both screamed and jumped up and down in the car, Daniel said he was so happy he was crying, Kate jumped in my seat with me to hug me, and when we got home we all shared hugs and tears together. Such a sweet time!
We will be leaving this weekend and returning next week. I got a picture of her this weekend from another family traveling - just look at that hair, and that precious little foot. Can't wait!!!
We were submitted to the US Embassy on January 3rd. They say that it normally takes 1 to 2 weeks before you hear from them. They have our email address and generally copy the families with all communication to our staff. Well, as of today, we had not heard from them. To say that I have been a basket case would be an understatement. WIth all the crazy stuff going on over there, I have been thinking the worst! So I called my sweet, sweet case worker, who at this time in this journey feels like my good friend, ready to cry to her and see if we could send the Embassy an email asking what the problem is. She had encouraging news for us. Apparently they have sent emails, but they were spelling my last name wrong!!! The Embassy has requested a birth parent interview (very standard) and that is scheduled to take place at 7:30am on January 30th (that is 12:30am EST - I imagine I won't sleep that night). Please pray - pray for R's birthmother as she has to travel to Addis again to tell her story. I have a real burden for her in all this and I have heard that these interviews can be very unpleasant. Pray that we are CLEARED!!! We could find out that same day that we have been cleared to travel, or we could hear that they need more information, or that they need to forward our case to the Embassy in Nairobi for further investigation. Our case is pretty cut and dry but you never know. IF we are cleared, we could travel later that week or the first part of the next week.
Please pray - pray that we will clear Embassy. Pray that we travel quickly.
We learned last week (1/2/12) that all our paperwork had been submitted to the US Embassy in Ethiopia. After we passed court in Ethiopia on 12/14/11, they have to gather all her paperwork (passport, new birth certificate, etc.) and submit that to the US Embassy to be reviewed. The reviewal process typical takes anywhere from 3-8 weeks and can have many bumps along the way so we are praying that it is all cut and dry and goes smoothly. Once the case is reviewed we will be given an Embassy appt. to go and pick up our sweet girl!
I can not tell you how many hours going to stores, searching the internet, reading articles, I have spent all in the attempt to learn more about caring for our little Ethiopian girl's hair! It is amazing how overwhelming it all is!!
I am learning all sorts of new words, terms, ideas. How often to wash her hair, or don't wash it at all but only co-wash it. How to keep her hair moisturized. What type of products to put in her hair and how often a day to do it. Does she need a leave-in, milk, a smoothie, or maybe a soufflé product?? How to find satin crib sheets since she is too little to sleep with a satin hair wrap or satin pillow, and her hair will be so dry that cotton fibers can make it break and be frizzy. What type of hair does she have - 3a,3b, 4a, 4b? and what do all those mean anyway.
A LOT of information...and I am loving it! but...eventually I am going to have to bite the bullet and buy something before she gets home :-)