Friday, May 27, 2011

Puzzle pieces

So I have been stalking this blog for a while.  This couple adopted a baby girl just a few months after we brought home Bella.  They are now adopting again.  A 4 1/2y old in Russia.  To be truthful, I don't even know this couple.  I was just moved by their story.  Check it out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Waiting to wait

We were fingerprinted on Wednesday morning.  It always amazes me how quickly I can become unglued.  Huge character-flaw.  You would think that I would have learned by now.  I graduated from God's Timing 101 in our first adoption.  Yet, I seem to forget whenever things don't go how I expect them to go.

I sent the i600a in and received the fingerprint appt card in a reasonable time frame.  Yet,we never did receive an appt card for Andrew.  He needs to be fingerprinted because he is 19.  Now, maybe I gave CIS too much credit but I did pay for 3 bio-metrics and they have my home study!  I thought that they must realize he is a college student and that he might be in NC.  Okay, I am laughing now that I wrote that out...but I really thought....
So, Andrew took off work.  Jason, Andrew, Bella (because who babysits at 6am) and I left for Rhode Island at 6 in the morning to make our 8am apt.  Don't I live in Ma??  Yes, but I guess, we get fingerprinted in RI.

We get there to find out that they can't fingerprint Andrew without an appt card.  Well, I almost started crying (or screaming) right then.  The nicest man tried to help us, but couldn't.  At some point, I gave in.  Sent Andrew to the car, and got fingerprinted.  While I was waiting...  I had a conversation with God that went something like this...I get it.  You are in charge.  I get it.  I get it.  You have a timeline that may be different than my own (who is kidding who-usually different than my own).  I get it.  I accept it.  But it sure would be nice to get his taken care of today.  And then we were fingerprinted and went to leave.  The nice man, came running out of his office yelling, "Wait!  I think I figured out what you can do."  Long story short...they fingerprinted Andrew, too.

So now we wait for CIS approval, wait for a referral, wait for court, and then wait for embassy.  Picking up on the key theme?  Wait.  I should definitely be eligible for a PhD in God's Timing by the end of adoption #2, don't you think?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Gifts

Bella's self portrait

We all love havving Andrew home!

We sent in our i600a on April 20th.  Saturday, April 7,  we received our fingerprinting appt for May 18th!!!  Truly resting in His timing.  It actually occurred to me that maybe I should be a little nervous about the timing of those fingerprints because Andrew is in school in NC.  (He needs to be fingerprinted because he is 19.)  I wasn't though.  Resting in His timing...and the appt came the same day that Andrew came home....for the following week.  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6-7 (This scripture will always be a favorite.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Good one" and nightime prayers

 Since Bella has been home, we do our prayers at night, just like we did with the older kids.  For some reason, Zach did his prayers primarily with Jason.  The others did them with either.  Bella does them with me, although Zach loves it when I have to work on a night that Jason does because then he gets to put Bella to bed and that includes prayers.  In our prayers we ask Jesus to bless ___fill in the blank____.... and then we usually take turns naming family and friends.  Recently,  Bella asked, "anyone new?"  And then I added, "Marjorie."  Bella asked, "Whose Marjorie?"  I explained that she is a woman who is a friend of a friend who just found out has cancer so she is very sick (a story for another day-but The Lord working, not like we may want but his clear fingerprint).  And Bella said, "Good one, good one!"  Then Bella added a friend of mine, Margaret.  No reason, and asked if she was "good one."  I said, "of course." So now, throughout the day Bella and I look for someone new to pray for that would be a "good one."  That person has been a stranger who looked angry or sad, a friend in TX who has a head/heart hurt,  friends celebrating their 3rd birthdays or a friend who just needs some comfort or healing.  But the word has gotten now Zach wants in on it.  We can't wait to see who Bella names, such a window into her soul, and she can't wait to see who I name.  We are truly blessed by the children in my life!

***Can you tell I need a new camera?????

Monday, May 2, 2011


So when I was catching up on my blog reading, a friend linked to this blog.  Claudia encouraged people to write on attachment.  I actually read a few blogs and it was so good to see some of the different perspectives and experiences to prepare for our teddy bear.  We have a few of our own perspectives/experiences to draw on.  I have a sister and brother that were adopted.  We were foster parents for 6 newborns who were with us anywhere from 10 days to 6 months. We have 3 bio kids.  And of course, we have Bella who came home at 2 1/2 y.

I learned from being a sibling that attachment is a life long exercise, whether or not adoption is in the mix.  It is like a bank account.  If you are constantly making withdrawals, and never making deposits...eventually the bank will close the account.  That is not to say that they won't let you re-open one, when you get your finances in order and are ready to make a deposit.

What we learned as a family from our "borrowed babies" was to be present in the moment, because we never knew when we would get the call that they were leaving.    The present moment is all we had.  We did dream for these babies and pray that they would end up in a soft landing place that would cherish them for the blessing that they were/are.  But we did not spend much energy worrying about what they would be good at or what they would become, or what the latest trend was on growing smart babies. We also learned that our family lines were extremely fluid.  We loved each almost immediately.  I don't mean that in a vague and blurry way.  We loved them fiercely and vividly.  When each left it felt like a deep loss.  Thankfully, we still see most of these little people in Christmas cards or visits.  I believe these babies actually challenged me to be a better parent.  I slowly stopped thinking that I knew what my 3 kids would be good at or become and I started to enjoy them at the age and stage that they were.  Today became the gift.

What I have learned from being a mom to 3 bio kids and attachment is interesting.  When I was reading adoption books before Bella got home, I would constantly be amazed that some of the behaviors that they highlighted as problematic attachment...sounded like one or another of my bio kids.  One of my children was hyper-attached, one was the charmer in a large group, and one shuts in my personal experience children and attachment is not that cut and dry.  I think that my three that share DNA, have come into this world with very different personalities, temperaments, and challenges.  Thankfully, I read the books when I was far enough along that I was not rushing them all into therapy.  That being said, I do think the challenge as a parent is to figure out how to be the parent that each child needs.  I don't think Eliza will mind my sharing some about her.  Eliza was painfully shy and hyper attached to me.  She would not take a bottle.  I mean she would NOT take a bottle no matter what type or what it was filled with.  She would wait for me rather than eat.  She would have waited the 8 hours that I worked if she had to (and actually did once).  Luckily Jason was able to bring her in a few hours in for my lunch break (one of the beauties of law school.)  Every student/teacher conference in elementary school was about how she was so shy.  So parenting her, was trying to find ways that would build her confidence and self esteem.  Anyone who has a "cling-on" child knows that sometimes the natural response to the clinging is a pushing away... I learned that counter-intuitive pulling-in worked so much better for us, though.  By 6th grade, you would not believe that the conferences where for the same child.  All this to tell you...that even with bio kids, the attachment process is very individual.  Each child's needs are different and your response will be different and even those will change over time.   We are constantly readjusting our parenting strategies and expectations.  The only constant is trying to make more deposits into each child's bank account than withdrawals.

Then Bella came along.  Remember that fluid family line that I spoke of with the foster babies.  She was "ours" before she even knew we existed.  We loved her almost immediately.  I lived in what looked very similar to a dorm room with her picture taped up all over our house for more than 6 months.  Zach came down the morning after the referral call and said, "I love her already."  So cool when it happens that quickly, like a tsunami.  But just as cool, when it is a more quiet and subtle breeze like it was for friends who worked and worked at it and then all of a sudden it wasn't work anymore.  It just was.  And actually even with in a family it can be one way for one member and the other with another.  We assumed her bank account had been long over-drawn.  Then she came home.  I will say that Bella's account most definitely was not overdrawn.  I think that this blogger and her failure to provide is a must read.  Sorry for stating the obvious but bonding and attachment are different, something I had not realized until after Bella came home.  Bella bonded almost immediately to me.  Quickly to Eliza and later to Jason and the boys.  Bonding is a shared moment or moments.  Attachment is a process or a collection of moments.  Attachment is the financial history, bonding is the opening of the account, to continue the metaphor.  When Bella came home, I should have been more careful about her exposure to family and friends.  Life took over and I was not prepared for the on slot of well wishers who dropped off meals and wanted to meet our newest member.  I ended up pulling back, reacting after events.  With Teddy bear we will have a plan of action.  Actually, something I love that YWAM has us do that I wish we had thought to do with Bella, we will have to work on a transitional plan.  We will have a phone call to go over it.  I had an idea of how it would work but I feel like we could have been more prepared.  Because she was an older toddler there were many things that had she been a baby...would have been great bonding and attaching scenarios ...feeding, dressing, changing diapers.  I did get her sippy cups that were like a bottle.  I snuggled her and fed her.  She was still in diapers, so I still changed her, and talked and cooed as she was being cleaned and redressed.  I did not encourage, nor was she ready to be potty trained for a bit.  Any opportunity to cuddle her, I took and still take.  Reading, eating lunch on my lap, climbing into our bed in the middle of the night.  There are still subtle reminders that she is still attaching....process, not a done deal.  Sometimes I see a self-reliance that I admire but wonder if it is actually a darker foreshadowing of attachment issues.  Sometimes I see a scary friendliness and confidence with adult friends.  Is it her confident self assured well adjusted self or again...that dark demon that haunts all adopted parents who read too many books?  See, we will  never be able to extract what is temperament, what is personality, and what is life experience (adoption).  It would be like taking cooked brownies and then separating the eggs, from the cocoa.  So I step forward and continue to try and make more deposits in Bella's account than withdrawals.  I pray over her because that is part of who we are as a family.  And I adjust and constantly readjust our parenting of her, like I did with the older kids, to meet her needs.  Grief will rear its ugly head as she gets older and make a huge withdrawal.  I mean like down payment-on-a-house type of withdrawal.  So I continue to make deposits before she realizes all that she has lost.  I look into those beeauuuutiful brown eyes and I tell her without words how lucky I am to be her mom always.  I use touch to communicate with her how cherished she is.  When I steer her away, or touch her hair, or pick her up when she wants nothing more than to continue to do what ever I don't want her to do I really do try not to be careless, rough, or impatient.  Not always successful but each I see as either a deposit or a withdrawal.  So I pray that I have learned and am practicing good financial decisions, and that we are creating a family with a sound financial future.

*Now I have to make some deposits in Bella's account.  Sesame Street followed by Cat in the Hat have been keeping her busy.

**As a side note I loved and have The Connected Child by Karen Purvis by my bed.  I love her gentle hope filled approach to children from really difficult stories.

+++Added after posting.  Keeping it real.  No sooner had I hit "post" I got a phone call from vice principal at Zach's school.  He quoted a movie that he should not have even seen.  Yes, the quote was inappropriate to say the least.  So don't think that I have anything under control....just saying...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Emotionally hung-over from yesterday, Adoption workshop tomorrow

Bella and Zach

Why is it that after spending a beautiful special day with family, I feel so sad and off kilter?  We drove to NY to celebrate my nephew's First Holy Communion.  Seeing the cousins together was unreal.  Seeing my father and siblings was special.  The ceremony was special.  So why is there that unsettled feeling the next day?  Is it because my father seems to be getting old quicker than I am ready for?  Is it the emotional exercise of maneuvering the family dynamics, wondering how siblings could be so different and yet, keeping it light and love filled?  Is it missing all of the family members who have died?  Or is it that I project forward to days when more will be gone?  Bella and Eliza loved seeing their cousins, aunts and uncles.  They love being surrounded by family.  Bella is still somewhat new to the cousins because we live so far away.  They just thought she was so special.  They got to see her sweet nature in full force.  She walked in and said to Amama (my sister's mother in law), "I like your dress.  Amama said, "You do?"  Bella responds, "Yes, purple is my favorite color and it looks beautiful on you."  I think Amama who is in her late 70s, almost fell off her chair.  That is all she talked about the rest of the afternoon.  It was so pure.  No parental prompting.  Eliza is getting so mature that she sits down and has a conversation with my father about politics or why she wants to be a surgeon and move to ET.  It was all good, so why does today feel like an emotional hang-over?

Tomorrow, I am going to a workshop on Trans racial Adoption: What Your Children Want You to Know.  I read alot about it before Bella came home.  I have so many questions, now.  Real questions that I want answered.  About a month ago, anonymous commented on my diversity in school v reputation of school post.  She (because I have fallen into the habit of thinking woman are the only people reading blogs) gave me some GREAT advice, as well as confirming what I already was thinking.  She reminded me that the diversity of the faculty was just as important as the diversity of the student body.  Oops, I think that I was so excited about the students...I forgot to ask about the faculty.  Thank you, anonymous.  So, I am so excited to get even more insight into this.  A good friend with a Korean adopt daughter who is grown now, also has shared that she always felt caught in between two worlds.  Not really Korean, and yet not Caucasian.  Her parents had several friends who also adopted from Korea.  They wish that they had put more emphasis on interacting with both non-adoptive and adoptive Korean families. Interesting perspective.  Food for thought.  I would hate for Bella to feel like that.