Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meeting Our Son

We just returned from Haiti.  I apologize to those of you emailing and checking the blog regularly for updates.  I promised I'd blog daily...and I would have had I had any Internet access;)

I don't know how best to summarize the weekend.  I filled fifteen pages of my journal with details;) Hopefully pictures will do it justice.  Christian is a fabulous little guy.  He's adorable and has a delightful personality!  He has a mischievous streak, he's quite active and I couldn't believe how well-matched he is for our family.  I cannot wait to bring him home! (I apologize for any typos I missed, I am quite tired this evening and still processing a lot;)


Meeting Christian:

 There really are no words.  Seeing this precious little boy in person was beyond amazing.  He walked out holding his nannies hand and it took everything in me to keep from weeping (I didn't want to frighten him.)

Based on the fact that we'd been told he has severe stranger anxiety, I expected him to cry upon seeing me, but he smiled;)   

THAT FACE:)  I restrained myself so as not to freak him out, but all I wanted to do was shower his cheeks with kisses;) 

Papa was smitten too;) 

They sat him on a stool in front of his and he was just staring at us.  They kept telling him in Creole, "This is your Mama and Papa!"  He was certainly overwhelmed, my heart broke at how "brave" he was and yet how vulnerable.


But also curious;)  He couldn't resist seeing what I felt like;)  He sat for about five minutes, touching my hand and then was mesmorized by the pictures on the camera screen, then his eyes fluttered closed and  he started to sway.  I thought he was so overwhelmed that he was passing out;)...so I picked him up (the stool had no back).

He didn't actually cry, but you can clearly see he was on the verge of tears.  How overwhelming to have some strange white lady everyone keeps calling "mama" pick you up!  I started singing to him and NO KIDDING, within ONE minute...

He fell asleep:)  We really thought it was because he was so overwhelmed. The nannies, however, informed us that, no, actually our arrival was during his naptime;)  He slept in my arms for over an hour.  It was pure bliss and gave us plenty of time to gaze at him;)

 When he woke up, they ushered us to the kitchen, and away from the other children for our lunch(I can't post pic's, but the entire time I sat holding a sleeping Christian, babies were crawling around us and the older kids were climbing on the gate and just staring at us;).  Christian came with us and sat between us.  I don't think he'd ever been in the kitchen;)  He sat and stared straight ahead and then stared at us and just seemed to take us in.  

 They'd left crackers for him, which he held but didn't eat; we offered him some of our bread and he ate from us...

and drank;) 

Then Marc decided to try and hold him.  He didn't seem to mind one bit;) 


He, in fact, didn't want Marc to put him down;) 


Thankfully our luggage was stored in the kitchen so I got out the ball I brought and we rolled it back and forth. 

 Then his nanny came in to get the lunch for the kiddos.  She stayed a few minutes and play with him with me.  I learned her name is Imelda.  She and Christian are very attached.  They say he is her favorite- she is definitely his.  She was SOOO helpful both days in letting him know we were good, fun, safe, etc.  He started to smile and kick the ball and such.  Then we took him with her to eat his regular lunch with the other babies.


After lunch, he seemed very comfortable to have us in his space with him, giving me smiles, etc.   Just a delight;) 


It was nice to see him interacting with his friends;) 

 I hate this picture of myself- but it is a great illustration of a happy afternoon:)

He was getting tired here and fell asleep in my arms shortly after, but you can hear his blessed laugh;)

Our afternoon ended with him napping in my arms after I again sang him to sleep.  This time I sang about 10 minutes;)

Day 1- From what we'd been told about his stranger anxiety and attachment to his Nannies, I didn't know if I'd even get to hold him.  Instead, I held him much of the day and during both naps.  He took food and drink from us, smiled willingly, played actively, laughed and loved being tickled and even played "hello" using a mega block as a telephone.  Blessing.

SUNDAY WITH CHRISTIAN:
He was overwhelmed when he first saw us on Sunday.  He started to cry a little.  I could just feel the pressure he felt.  They definitely make a "big deal" of parents visiting and for an 18 month old who doesn't understand what parents really are, I felt him almost not know why everyone was so focused on him.  He warmed up more quickly than on Saturday, but my heart ached for him in the morning when he just seemed like he'd had enough.  The old kids are so excited for him and constantly yelling things at him (nice things, but things he probably didn't understand exactly) and the nannies kept saying, "Say 'mama', say 'papa'"  Sometime even I felt the pressure was overwhelming!



He did like the books we brought him and the kid LOVED Gerbert Yogurt melts.  I do mean LOVED them;) 

Though he was overwhelmed he seemed to want to be held by us, which I was amazed by.  He seemed to feel some security with us, especially when Imelda was off doing other things. 

I took this picture as a good example- he could have run away from us, but he stood just holding Marc's knee and trying to figure out what the older kids (who are separated from the babies by a gate type wall) were saying to him.

This is where the babies who are crawling or walking nap during the day.  It is a mat on the floor in the play area.  They play on it too.  He would hide his face and then look at me and smile.  A little game of peek a boo- precious.

A good action shot (behind him is the cribs they sleep in at night)...the kid has a GOOD arm;)

We had to leave shortly after this.  It was hard to say goodbye and yet a blessing to have such reassurance that he is well cared for.  He gave us the gift of waving "bye bye" through the gate as we walked out.  Such a precious final sight;)

Lots of pictures, but just a small portion to somehow portray our visit.  It was amazing.

I left with a good sense of who Christian is, what his personality is like, etc.  I am so so so thankful for Imelda and made sure to take lots of pictures of her, so somedays he knows he's been loved since birth.  Her role fascinated me.  They are attached and yet she was very aware I was his mom and VERY affirming of my role.  She gave him such a gift in helping him warm to me.  I was able to leave the books with her and I know she'll work on reading them to him to help ease the transition.  She really will have multiple crowns in heaven.  She's worked at the orphanage 20 years.  How many kids has she loved and passed on with joy?  What an amazing, amazing woman. 

We left early, I am sure, some of you wonder why.  It was a difficult and yet easy decision.  In order to see Christian Monday we'd have to bring him to the guest house with us.  Of course, part of me wanted to.  The kid is a doll and it was hard to leave him, but I didn't think it was best for HIM yet.  We don't know how much longer the process will take and how long it will be until our next visit.  He was overwhelmed enough and definitely thrived most in his territory (vs. the newness of the kitchen).  We really felt like we didn't want to take him to a completely foreign place for two days and then not see him for a few months.  It felt like too much for his little heart and mind.

Because we couldn't see him then on Monday (the director and driver had obligations at the Embassy for another adoption) and Tuesday was slated as a day to get Souveniers and stuff, we decided we'd come home early.  The driver dropped us off at the airport on their way to the Embassy.  We'd had no contact with our family here- no phone or internet.  We were completely isolated.  We didn't need a day to hang out at the guest house and we knew we could get the kids little souveniers at the airport, so we felt we'd just come home and get Ava back in school, etc.

How did I feel leaving?  I can only say I have a deep ache in my heart.  I also saw first hand he is happy and well cared for.  Yet he is not in a family.  At age two, he won't be with Imelda any more, as he'll move up with the older children.  Even if this wasn't the case, she loves him, but not like a mom.  More like an auntie or something.  There are two nannies caring for probably 12 babies.  You can imagine these kids have learned already to handle a lot on their own.  It is as nice as on orphanage can be.  They are loved, well fed, clean, etc., but kids weren't meant to grow up in institutions.  I am very anxious to get him home.  If we had been taking him home, I would have had no second thoughts about bringing him to the guest house and starting further attachment, but because time is possibly long, I want to make it as less traumatic as possibly.  I don't want him attached to me yet, I don't want him confused. I am deeper in love with him than before, of course, and felt so encouraged by how I even thought about the process.  Mamas put their babies first, we do it by nature and already I felt fiercely protective of his heart.  He is most definitely my son, whether the law has declared it so or not.  He is amazing and I felt beyond, beyond, beyond blessed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gratitude

Tomorrow we depart for our trip to meet the beloved little boy we've been gazing at through pictures and falling in love with from afar.  I can't quite articulate how I am feeling; it changes.  I do know I am almost giddy with excitement.  I have trouble concentrating and will find myself tearing up at random times...my heart knows how very special and miraculous an experience we've been on and it've almost overwhelming.

I don't know why God chose us to parents any of our children, let alone Christian, but I look at his precious little face and I feel so grateful for the privilege.  My heart swells with love.  I am thankful for the miracle of adoption and the privilege of being apart of the miracle.

I've been overwhelmed this week with support- OVERWHELMED.  I will certainly get to writing "thank you's" upon return, but today I just want to testify to the beauty that is the body of Christ, that is friendship.  This week, I've recieved phone message, texts, facebook messages, and emails just letting me know that we are covered in prayer.  The bible says that where two are three are gathered in prayer, there God is.  Do you know how IN this God is?  I've known it from the beginning, but each time someone prays for me or tells me they are praying for us, I am reminded- He is all over every part of this thing.  I am amazed.

I've received blessed advice from adoptive mothers who've gone before and from folks who've been to Haiti before.  People have blessed us with cards, unexpected financial gifts, beautiful personally done artwork, and YUMMO pecan rolls.  Ava's teacher switched around "Teddy Bear Day" so Ava can participate before we leave at noon tomorrow.  Marc's coworker gave us a check and asked that we use it to meet a need we see in Haiti.  I literally cry just thinking of how OVERFLOWING my love tank is right now;)  We have been in Sheboygan two and a half years.  In January, I begged God for people to live life with, it is only October and I see that he has answered in abundance.  Isn't that his way.  I am in awe.

Adoption is a miracle and yet as I read posts like this, I know that it is also difficult at times.  It can rock your family and your world.  I am so thankful God isn't asking us to embark alone- he is leading so many of you to walk along side us, lifting us up in prayer.

I cannot wait to blog (there's wifi at the guesthouse in Haiti;) and share our journey with you.  I thank each and every prayer warrier and look forward to continuing to share this journey with you.

Thank you, Muchas Gracias, Merci, di ou m├Ęsi!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Man has done it again;)

Last night I got home from bible study and was foraging the fridge (don't judge), when Marc walked into the kitchen with a nicely wrapped box.  He said, "I got something for you today." Inside the box was this:


He said, "I've gotten you a Willowtree when you met each of our kids at birth, it seems only natural I should get you one on the occasion of meeting Christian."

It's true, I have a few of these from birth and one from my first pregnancy.  How does carved wood convey such beauty?  I love them.  Getting one now, wasn't on my radar, however.  I have been busy focusing on "to do"s.  I didn't even know they had one for adoptive mamas.

It's precious.  It is called "Child of my Heart" and the card reads:
Child of the world,
Into my heart you came-
Bringing sun into my life,
Making family our name.


My husband knows me well and loves me even better.  I am so honored to be walking through life with him; I wouldn't want to experience this miracle that is adoption with anyone else.

Thank you, Babe.  I love you more than words can possible communicate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Getting Ready!

We will meet our little boy in three days, nineteen hours, and two minutes.   I can't quite articulate how I feel; I have no idea how to process it to be honest.  I am beyond excited, nervous, frightened, and just in complete awe of the privilege I've been given.

While we will certainly be adding to this list (we found out we can bring as many things as we want;), Here are the key things we've planned on bringing him:
This stuffed panda, which has been in bed with Marc and I for a couple weeks and is made into our bed during the day.  The idea is that our "scent" will stay with him long after we are gone.


This recordable book.  It is a cute book, and our voices will be able to "read" it to him even when we aren't present.  The illustrations are adorable and it has families of different races inside, which I liked.


The Jesus Storybook Bible in Haitian Creole...we are bringing a couple copies to leave at the orphanage.

Finally, I made him this board book, in English and Creole.















Time is running short for this trip, but we WELCOME comments and suggestions of what else to bring our beloved baby boy;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Phineas

My son, Phin, turned four years old today.  I can't believe time has flown so quickly.

Phin's first few months of life shook me to the core.  He had milk-protein intolerance and at two months, had RSV that left him with residual Reactive Airway Disorder.  He did not sleep, which I know many people say that, but in his case, it was true.  I don't really know how I survived the sleep deprivation, but somehow we made it and by seven months he slept soundly through the night making up for lost time.

He is a mischievous character.  If he is gone and quiet, I know I am in trouble.  He's pulled more antics in four years than I expected to endure in a lifetime and yet they all make me laugh.  He is a very smart little guy and when combined with creativity- there is often lots of mess and lots of laughs.

His name means, "Face of Compassion" and there really is something special in his little face.

I made up a song for him as a baby  that I used to sing to him:

Mr. Charmer, that's you
Mr. Charmer, that's you
Oh that twinkle in your eye,
It could light up the sky
Mr. Charmer that's you

Mr. Charmer, my guy
Mr. Charmer, my guy
With a smile and a wink
You'll have 'em on their feet
Mr. Charmer, my guy


He really has grown to be a Charming young man and the twinkle never leaves his big brown eyes.  He is rarely grumpy and loves to laugh.  He loves people and loves being a boy.  He admires his dad and his grandfathers and is happiest when he's with them.  He is curious and has broken a few toys trying to figure out how they work.  He is sensitive and devastated when he hurts someone else.

He is a bundle of energy and yet has surprised me by becoming a meticulous kid.  He cleans his room as well as I could do it.  He organizes his toys and keeps things in place.  He LOVES school and learning. And though from speaking to other moms with boys, I expected him to tell me little about his school day, he actually gives me more details than our very talkative firstborn ever has (and if you know her- you know i get plenty of unsolicited info.;)

This year, he was potty trained, can dress and undress himself completely, can set and clear the table, is a great cleaner and most importantly, he asked Jesus in his heart.  What fun to celebrate this special little guy!
 Ava helped me wrap presents...


Ava then wanted to hide until he came down to breakfast...she was so excited (warmed my heart) 


He was delighted;) 

He opened Ava's present first. 

He loved it- a Cars watch 



Marc and I got him a bunch of Rescue Hero Stuff (a literal BUNCH because I got it all for $30 off Craigslist;)

Then after cereal, he got to eat cake for breakfast;)  Cuz you can do that on your birthday, you know. 


When Chloe got up, he opened her gift...a barrel of monkey, just like the ones form Toy Story. 

He quickly tried them out. 


 Then he and Chloe watched and played Rescue Heros...all morning;)

When Ava got home, we decorated Mr. Potato Head cupcakes (for school treat tomorrow)...cuz sometimes it's more fun to participate in decorating your own birthday cupcakes;)



Marc came home a bit early and they all played Mariocart...we rarely let the kids play video games, so this may have been the highlight of the day for Phin;) 



He requested "Breakfast for Dinner", so I put candles atop his car shaped buttermilk pancake (the best recipe EVER is here.)


Sticky, Messy delight;)

Happy Birthday to my favorite Four year old little boy.  We love you to the moon and back, Phineas Sinclair and we thank God for you!