Friday, May 28, 2010

finding support through friendships

When we first started our journey to adopt I remember someone telling us that the adoption community will become your new family. That concept has stuck with me through out our process and I have come to completely agree. At first I couldn't see why our new adoption friends would be any different than our other circle of friends. We have a variety of circles that we socialize in and I wasn't sure this new group would be any different than our homeschooling friends or our church friends or work friends or neighbors. But somehow when you connect with another adoptive family you share a bond that unites you.

These are other people that understand the trials, the struggles, the waiting, the fund raising, the paperwork, the court process, the referral, the travel, the first few weeks home, the adjusting, the bonding and attaching, the idea of learning to parent new children from unique backgrounds, the sickness that the kids come home with, the milestones, the cocooning, the joys and blessings that it all brings. They have been through this before or possibly are preparing to encounter this themselves.

I have become a believer in doing life intentionally. I understand how important it is to find the support of other adoptive families. To invest in friendships with other adoptive moms. To carve out time to go for coffee with some gals and nurture that budding friendship that starts with the common passion for adoption and orphans.

Just in the last week or so, we held a picnic get together (that is where all these shots came from) with some other adoptive families here in our small town. It was a blast. I noticed a common theme that all of these families really long for this kind of connection. It didn't take much to organize it and there never is a time that everyone can make it. But even on short notice we had 7 families meet at the park for a summer evening of connection.

I also met up with some friends for coffee this week. We met late one evening and talked until they kicked us out of Starbucks and then we talked some more in the parking lot. I came away refreshed. I need to do this kind of thing more often. Rather than waiting for someone else to initiate it, I figured I might as well take the plunge. With in just about 3 miles of our home we have many adoptive families. Some from our agency, some not. Some from Ethiopia, some from Nepal. All eager to find families that "look like them" to do life with. We are very grateful for so many families to find support in.

I find it best not be an island. Friendship is important and rejuvenating. I look forward to continue these adoption friendships. I have these ideas that our kids will grow up knowing each other and finding that this is where their support comes from when they hit those teenage years and need others who understand their adoptive situation.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

3 months update and a little glimspe into our world

WOW...3 months...we have cleared the 3 month mark. Gotta say, it is a big deal and a wonderful sigh of relief. We have worked so hard during these past months to do things so intentionally to help our boys adjust and bond and connect. That has been the biggest goal and I feel like it has been worth it.

We are starting to come out of our cocoon, slowly but surely. Easy does it and baby steps for sure. We are still co-sleeping with the boys and not sure we that now would be the best time to change that. I think we will continue that a little longer. The boys are still sleeping well and eating well. I haven't seen too many changes in that area of our lives. They both have adjusted to our menu here at home but also still enjoy Ethiopian foods.

I have gone back to working with the girls each day for school and the boys have done a great job of exploring the educational toys and activities that I have provided for them. Check out the family blog to see some of the things I have done to help them work on some basic skills.

Speaking of basic skills...their language has come so far. Tyce can understand about everything we say and we can understand 90% of what he is trying to communicate. Sometimes we have to be a little creative, but we get it done. Tate puts 3 words together often and still uses signs to aid in his communication.

We are still seeing signs of testing from both boys and they often get upset (either tantrums or pouting) when they don't get their way. We have been casual about nipping this but our plan is to begin working harder at more appropriate responses. I got the OK from our worker at AGCI to begin disciplining a bit more. She reminded me that boundaries and regulations and structure are all new to them. They have had a lack of parenting for so long that it will be a slow process but if we are consistent we should see some improvements.

Both boys have been to the dentist and we got the confirmation that Tyson is indeed 4. He had a great first visit and was able to get his teeth cleaned. We are thankful that we don't have major work that needs to be done. And Tatum was hesitant, but did finally let the dentist look in his mouth. No cleaning or anything this time, but at least it was a great first visit.We have seen huge improvements in so many areas and we are so thankful that our transition has continued to go so well. One of my prayers is that our situation would be a positive adoption story. There are enough negative ones, so it would be neat to be a positive testimony. I have also prayed that God would use our story to encourage others to follow God's lead in their own lives to adopt. To stretch their think outside the follow where God leads.

I just don't have time these days for extras like blogging, but I do desire to keep it updated as much as I can. I wanted to share a little picture that Tyson drew of me. Each day during his rest time, he spends that time writing words or drawing pictures. He then brings them out to me to show me while I am teaching the girls their science. He likes me to guess what they are. This was one of my favorite pictures that he has drawn.

If you are fb friends with me you have already seen it. If you look closely, I have a smile. =)

Here is one of my favorite pictures from Mother's day. Oh how I love these sweet peas. They are precious. We are bonding...we are connecting...we are attaching. Praise God !!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Tissy (who is now known as Gigi according to Tate) has become a great big sister. This is a new role for her and she is flourishing in it. She sits next to Tate in the van and tries to keep him entertained.  She is quick to grab a bib at meal time.  She hauls the high chair out back if we are eating on the deck. She likes to help find clothes for the boys to wear and is often around for dressing time to get anything I need.  She likes to make a snack for the boys in the morning while I work on a little more school with Tally.  She plays with them at the tot table (go check it out here). She has turned out to be a great big sister. I am proud of her for learning to care for these little guys and allow her heart to grow to include her new brothers.  Oh how she loves them so very much. I would say she is adjusting well. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Oh how I love it...

...when my boys come into the bathroom while I am in the shower and sing and dance for me. Yep...the little one was naked (we are potty training here) and he did a lovely little dance for me stomping all over the bathroom scale (hey, at least someone is using the scale). Then big brother comes in and says "Mama, you like music?" To which I respond, "Yes, I like music." So in he marches with 2 large pot lids and bangs them together and marches around the bathroom. That kid has got the beat. Nice and loud and full of gusto...these 2 march around the bathroom while I am trying to shower. And at the end of their song and dance...Daddy comes in and finds them in the bathroom and shoos them out saying "You boys get out and give your mother some peace and quite."

Nah...let them come in and sing and dance and play their music any old time. I love it !!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I wonder what it was like the day your heart broke....

I have been thinking a lot about all of the different trauma and experiences that our boys have gone through. In just their few short years of life they have experienced so many difficult things and situations and I can only begin to imagine how hard it has been for them.

I have seen these sweet peas come so far in just over two months. Their world has completely changed and they have handled all the stress of transition extremely well. Yes...we have had some good moments and some NOT so good moments, and if I were to make a blanket statement, they have done really well. But for some reason, tonight, it is good for me to process through some different feelings and thoughts (almost therapeutic for me - thanks for the encouragement to do so Dad).

And so...I wonder what it was like the day our boys' heart broke.

My precious sweet peas, I wonder what it was like when you figured it out that your birth mom wasn't coming back to pick you up. I wonder if you understood that she made the choice that she did because she love you enough to let you go. Her love was
strong enough, deep enough, sacrificial enough to let you have life. A life that she couldn't give you.
A home.

The little information we have about your birth mom includes the wish and prayer that she wants you to know that it was only poverty that forced her to let you go. Notice I didn't say "give you up". There is a difference. She was giving you life. Releasing you to live.

When she took you to the orphanage that led you to Hannah's Hope, when did you figure out that she wasn't coming back. That moment is the one that breaks my heart. That idea that I can't shake, that you, my babies, lost trust. A trust that we are trying so hard to rebuild. A trust that only God can heal in your hearts and minds. You must have felt so alone and abandoned.

I wonder how much you understood. When you knew. Did your birth mom explain it to you, my precious boys? Even if you were told, did you understand? Most likely, you only understood a little, but the wound is still deep. Each time Daddy returns from work and you run like crazy to meet him at the door and wrap your arms around him and hug and kiss him...I get a little glimpse of hope. Hope that God is rebuilding that trust, that the people who love you and care for you will return.

I am sorry. I am so sorry that I wasn't there to protect you from the pain and the loss. You have experienced such difficult loss and as a mother, I want to protect you from any harm and pain you may experience. I have had to trust that our God, who loves you more than I, will protect you and care for you and heal you in His perfect time.

I wasn't there when your heart broke. When the trust was broken. But...I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be part of your healing. I am committed to you. And I take comfort in knowing that God knows, and understands and He promises He will not leave you as orphans, He will come to you (John 14:18).

Love, Mom

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Brotherly love - and a little taste of how adopting siblings is different than a single child

One of the things that we had to do before we could accept our referral was prepare a transition plan for our siblings. I do love that our agency works so hard at preparing us with LOTS of education for our adoption. I feel like it has helped us to have realistic expectations and helped us succeed in the first few months. We had to write a whole plan on how we would handle the unique challenges of siblings.

At first I thought this idea was kind of odd...I mean...we already have siblings...and I was part of a hard can it be???? But bringing in a set of siblings into your home is different. One of the things that drew us to the idea of siblings in the first place, was that they would always have a buddy. Not just a play mate, but someone who has been through the same experience as themselves. I hope and pray that some day they find comfort in knowing that are not alone in this world.

I love when I look at one of the boys and I can see their brother in them. Somehow a look or a mannerisms that just resembles the other one. It is such a special thing. I love it.

We have been on the look out for making sure they boys come to us for their needs and not going to each other. That is one of the concerns of the sibling relationship. It had been reported that our older son was very protective and cautious of the little one. Taking care of him was very familiar to him. Though it is a sweet thing, we needed to make sure that the boys come to US to care for their needs. It is so important for them to see Chuck and I as the care givers. All part of the purposeful bonding and attaching that must take place.

I wanted to share a few ideas of what we have done to work on breaking the strong dependence of each other and try to get the boys to depend and turn to us.

  • Bath time - I don't bath them together and I don't give them the soap, rinse cup or wash cloth. They both want to do it all on their own and instead I need them to see me as the care giver.
  • Sleeping - Even though we will have the boys sleep in the same room, they are currently sleeping in different rooms. One with each of us.
  • Comfort and meeting needs - I don't let our older one take care of the little guy. I get what ever he needs and keep using the phrase "let mama do it". At first we saw this as a big problem, but we have seen him back off a lot and take the roll of brother and not care giver.

  • Separating the boys - just like for sleeping, I have them sit on different sides of the table, and ride in different rows in the car.

This whole idea may seem odd to some of you. Like I am trying to break their special bond. I am not, in fact I love that they have a closeness of being brothers from the same mother. (Interestingly, that is one of the first questions people ask "Are they biological brothers?" and though I don't feel like I owe anyone an explanation, I do answer and share "Yes, they are biological siblings.") But instead, we want them to see each other as brothers. That is their role in their relationship. Brother...sibling...friend...playmate. At times I see a little glimpse of an exclusive club that only the 2 of them belong to. At first we had our concerns this closeness would not allow bonding with us, but since we have intentionally worked on it, we have seen things change. At first, Tyson Fikadu would run to Tatum Abush with every little cry and try to take care of it. We have seen his role change to the appropriate big brother role.

Just the other day, we were out playing in the yard and Tate tripped on a little pile of dirt. He fell and got a mouthful of dirt and cried and allowed me (the mama) to comfort him and dust the dirt off as I held him. At the same time, Tyce ran to the garage, found a little child's size rake and went after that dirt pile, knocking it down and getting rid of it. When he was done working on it, he said "There you go baby". Some how it seemed more like something a big brother would do, he wanted to help out. You can still see how much they care for each other and we are thrilled to see that. Brotherhood. One of the reasons we wanted to bring home siblings in the first place.

Dear Sweet Peas,

I love to see how you have a special love and connection to each other. I am so glad we followed God's leading. I pray you will always have a close relationship to each other.

Love, Mom