Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tips on the flight home from one adoptive mom to another

Since this blog is adoption related I wanted to share my tips and tricks for the airplane ride. Here are my lessons learned for flying solo with a elementary age child who speaks no English for 24 hours.

 -Talk with you travel agent before hand and make sure you have plans for a flight home, it may be better to book before and change rather than have to purchase higher price tickets-ouch!

 - Go to the Hilton and practice using their scanner (this helped N not be afraid when we went to the airport)

 -Make sure you know where your gate is- and confirm which one it is-multiple times!

-Be prepared to stand your ground in the airport. You will get shoved and pushed in line.

- Bring melatonin and use it, your child will not sleep with out it!

- Bring plenty of snacks (that you don't have to by in the airport if you are going back to the US).  N hated that airplane food and ate like 5 rolls to fill up.

- Don't bother bringing a book to read- you won't read it!

- Watch the soda intake-my child was ok with it but yours may not be and get sick- that would not be fun!

- Dress your child in pj's if they have a night flight, helped out N to understand it was time to sleep and then we had a fresh outfit for the homecoming.

-You may want to consider a pull up, all the change in air pressure (and possible soda intake) can make your kiddo have to go a lot, and if the seatbelt sign is on- your screwed! (We called our special airplane underwear that pilots wear, worked like a charm!)

-When we went to the airport it was just my husband and then when we got home the other kids where there, it worked really well as far as not overwhelming him.

-Bring socks for your feet and theirs if you have flip flops- it gets cold!

-Have someone talk to your child about the airplane toilets in amharic, they are loud and scary!

-Let go of your idea that they wont watch the tv the whole time-it is not worth the trouble, let them watch the movies on the plane an it will most likely be the same movie... you have the rest of their lives to limit it.

I think that is all, if any of you have any other comments or suggestions- post them below in the comment section.

Happy travels!

Coming Home (our journey home)

I realize this post is about a week and a half old but better late than never.

The day it says time to go home N was so very excited he kept counting down the hours. Out flight did not leave until after 10pm and my little man goes to sleep right at 8:00 so he was allowed to drink all the soda he wanted that afternoon- lucky boy!

We had to fly business class due to flights being completely booked full and having an immigrating child....(good for comfort, bad for the wallet!!!). It was very nice to be able to go into the little ET Air club and relax in the airport. N soaked up the last bit of soda he could and enjoyed some shiro wat before we went to board our plane.

God must have known I needed that little bit of down time because getting checked in and boarding the plane was a chaotic mess I would never want to do again. For a little while I honestly thought we would miss the plane. Remember 3rd world country...crazy lines, no English and no organization make for a stressful airport.

Amazingly we made our flight and were in our seats, ready for the long journey ahead.

I secretly hide the fact that N has a TV in front of him and enjoy my complimentary champagne (I only had one glass but after that ruckus in the airport I could have drank the bottle) gave out son a little melatonin and sang him to sleep. I'm sure all the business men around us thought I was some crazy while lady but by this time is it close to 11pm and we are heading home!!!!!!!!!

N did really well on the plane, he slept about 5 hours then woke up and are a bit then we enjoyed the TV and read books and kept him nice and happy with gum, hot tea and bread! 

After our 17 hour flight we had a 4 hour layover in DC where we managed through the incredible maze of immigration that took 3 hours, ugh, that's rough! However, we did enjoy a little Five guys burger aka N's first "Real American Cheeseburger" and rode the trains through the airport. I don't think this kid will ever be the same!

It was so wonderful to get off the plane in Saint Louis and see Gene there at the gates. We had both missed him so very much! N ran as fast as he could into his arms and wanted carried for the rest of the day.

Then we drove the 3 hours to home and had three very excited children waiting to meet there brother. The very first picture of all four of the children!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The meaning of a blog

 I wanted to once again share with you why I write this blog in hopes that if you are one of the readers you will have a clear understanding of why I do this. When we started this adoption journey 2+ years ago Wow- I can not believe it has been that long! like many new adopting parents I wanted to read as much personal stories as I could so that I could get a better understanding of what was to come. Likewise I decided to share my own personal stories so that others could learn from me and I could share this journey with our family and friends. I think it also became a bit therapeutic for me to be able to share it with others because it made the process feel genuine and real to me. In adoption there is no baby growing inside you so you have to have some way of tracking your progress and knowing one day you will have a child. For me blogging about it helped. We also feel that adoption is so closely tied to God and his purpose for us that we had to share our hearts with others.

Because we have chosen to keep this blog public and adoption/orphan care related I often times struggle between being honest and genuine while still keeping privacy to my family. I am going to make some changes to the blog in hopes that I can continue to keep it public while respecting my family. You will now see my children referred to by their first initial  and I may share some more technical jargon when sharing certain situations in our lives in hopes that you will be able understand more.

As I work on writing a truthful look on our continued journey I hope to share with you the realism of our lives and in the same regard I ask your privacy as well.

Thank you for sticking with me and sharing in our journey. You words of encouragement and support have helped us so very much and we are extremely grateful for the outpouring of love we have received!

Monday, August 12, 2013

So close i can taste it (and smell it and see it)

The past week has been filled with more ups and downs then I could ever imagine. I have learned how to function with out power, Internet, good deodorant and hot water. (First world problems)
My Amharic vocabulary has grown to about 15 or so words and N is really truly beginning to understand the word No and begin to accept it more and more.

We worked hard on school and he has started reading very basic site words, he is so excited about getting to go to school for the first time! He is going to make such a great First grader!

This past week I ventured out more with N as I think we were both going to go a bit crazy staying in the guest house all day. There were a few crazy fun adventures that I hope to blog about when I am in the plane (and have my son contained in one seat) and can hopefully again put into words the country of Ethiopia.

Today was my interview with the US Embassy and we cleared with flying colors! I will be flying home on Thursday and can imagine eating fresh fruit, taking a warm hot bath with a lovely glass of moscato and enjoying clean smelling things with hugs and kisses from my family. Three more sleeps!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Moving away from survival mode

Our days have been spent waking up, eat breakfast, school work, play outside, make/eat lunch, play, school, take a walk, dinner, shower then bed. A bit repetitive and when it rains you get one little boy full of energy. So, yesterday was a nice break from our new routine.

We decided to tag along with the AWAA crew and went to church at ICU where the husband form Embracing Hope Ethiopia pastors. N sang right along in the praise and worship time and I know is going to really love our own worship group at church!

After that we went out for lunch the to the transition home. I had not intended to take him back and was concerned about his reaction. Sure enough it was very hard for N and so I did some major reassurance and attachment work, we went for a walk and after his heart was comforted we went back in and played. It was great to see him once again play with his old friends and I'm sure he missed having boys around. Overall I think for the first time he realized maybe this mom thing is for real and one more layer of protection was pealed away.

That evening we went to dinner with most of the families from AWAA Robera and his father Abraham Teressa who own Robera Coffee Exporters. Robera is a 21 year old graduate of George Mason and an amazing young man. He is so passionate about coffee and Ethiopia and such drive. I will tell you this kid is going places!

Each day N and I find our groove a little better and I am beginning to adjust more to being in Ethiopia. The first few days were harder than I had though they would be and I really missed my family, their support and the comforts of home. I wish I could explain what if felt like to be half a world away from our family with a new son. I have very few people speaking my language during the day, a house full of missionaries which made attachment very difficult, intermittent power outages, a lack of ability to get anywhere, minimal bits of food and no way to communicate.

But now he is learning more English, I am learning more Amharic and together we could beat anyone in a game of charades! Together we are trying new foods and the sweet ladies here at Ember house will give N some shiro wat and he has an ample supply of white bread and plain pasta (his previous main staple of food) along with his favorite applesauce and bananas. We are able to facetime with family so life is good now as I continue to channel my inner Dr. Purvis (an attachment specialist.) and enjoy our time here, taking it one day at a time.

The view from our guest house.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What grief does to the heart

I have always tried to keep this blog honest while at the same time respecting our sons privacy. These first few days together have been filled with wonderful sweet moments, first discoveries along with grief, confusion and testing boundaries. Our son has lost a lot in his life and so my goal for this time in Ethiopia was to aide the bonding process, build up language skills and experience Ethiopia together before he leaves for America.

I can not say that these first few days have not been without tears for both of us. I love N with my whole heart and am so thankful for him and blessed that God choose me to be his heart mom. Some days I am overwhelmed with not the behaviors that I see but more in the knowledge of why and how those came to be. We have a ways to go with food but each day N is learning that We will always be able to feed him and he will not ever have to starve. We are also learning what the word No is and slowly excepting its meaning. Each day I continue to build trust with him that I can meet his needs and keep him safe and loved. I treasure the sweet moments we have each morning when he crawls in my bed, holds my face and says "My mom, I love you. You are my mom". Yes, N, I am your mommy and I will always love you.

But with that, I realize, my love is not always enough. Another adoptive mom wrote today how our love is wonderful but it is nothing compared to the love our God give us and our children. My love is not sufficient and will not carry us though but HIS love does and that same love that died on a cross can also fill both our weary heart each and every day.

This adoption journey has shown me the inhuman ability it takes to complete this journey and only God can provide that strength and integrity and love that is needed.

And with that, I leave you with a sweet photo of my human love for this amazing kid!

Friday, August 2, 2013

New beginnings

Today is the third full day N has been with me and I can say it has been wonderful but exhausting, amazing but so very hard. You prepare and prepare but much like having a new brand new baby in the end you do the best you can do.

Our Tuesday I went to pick up N. I wish I could describe what is like to pick him up with literally nothing but the clothes on his back, nothing.....our other three children pack a huge suitcase to stay the night at their grandparents house and my newest son has absolutely nothing with him to account for his entire life. I was told somewhere someone had some of the things we had sent him over the months but they had no idea who or where. Then when it was time to go we just hoped in the van and left.

That day we follow the other adoptive families and went to the shopping market, after one store I decided N and I would stay in the van, just a little too much stimulation. Then we went on a tour of Robera Coffee. I will have to make a blog entry on just that And the work he is doing in Ethiopia.

Then it was time to come home, we ate a traditional Ethiopian dinner, N had his first shower which he absolutely loved! I think it was his first "real shower" ever, he kept singing and dancing. then into his new batman pj's and off to bed. He slept in his own bed for the whole night!

Later tonight I will blog about our first full day at the guest house and the ups and downs of parenting a new adopted child.....hard stuff people, hard stuff.