Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More progress

I am smiling right now!=) This is what Samson has done in recent days:

-Gives KISSES!! He knew how to turn his cheek to RECEIVE a kiss but now gives them out!
-Much more eye contact with mom!

-Holds mom's hand!

-Snuggles with and molds to mom when being rocked to sleep!

-Says, "I love you MUCH mommy!" without being prompted.

Our time together has been so much worth it!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I can see a change in his eyes

What a difference one week can make!! As I implied in a previous post, I am struggling with attachment. I have been in love with my new beautiful son even before I met him. My heart has grown much for this precious gift I get to call my son and I've been praying for his heart to grow for his mommy.

Today when I rocked him to sleep for his nap, he did not put up a fight, he did not push me away. Instead, he snuggled into my arms and gazed into my eyes until his eyes grew heavy with sleep. This has happened before but the look in his eyes was different. If I could read his mind, I swear he was was saying, "mommy, I love you" and "this feels good".

Two weeks ago, just before nap time, I tried snuggling with him but he resisted me and instead laid on the floor and fell asleep on his own. He did this same thing in church one Sunday - instead of letting me hold him and comfort him when I knew he was tired, he chose to lay down on the floor and fall asleep on his own again.

So, in the attachment arena, we have made progress!! What is my secret?

The most important thing we did is STAY HOME and I literally quit all my volunteer responsibilities! I have been home with Samson and have had him to myself for an entire week! At home, I give all my attention to him - I make him my priority. He deserves my time and he is so worth every minute I spend with him.

His favorite thing to do is ride the lawn mower - he gets to steer with my guidance and I control everything else. We also read books, kick the ball, go for walks (he loves the stroller!), jump on the trampoline and swing together. I try to do activities where we interact with each other and where he has to make eye contact with me. Eye contact is crucial for attachment.

One other thing I do is rub him with lotion 2 times per day and take baths with him (a recommendation from another adoptive parent). Skin on skin contact also helps further attachment.

So, back to the eye thing ... ever since we first met him, I have seen changes in the way he looks at members of our family. When we met him for the first time at the care center, he barely made any eye contact. (Which had to be difficult for him with 5 set of eyes watching every move he made!!) At one point, his eyes were so glossed over, it almost appeared that he was cross eyed. His eyes were telling us that he wasn't going to fall in love and risk the chance of another loss again.

He has been through so much in his young life, that I knew we would have to work very hard to gain his trust and love. I don't blame him for the pain, fear and confusion in his eyes. It's not his fault this his fourth home.

Once home, he was happy but also overwhelmed and confused.

He has the biggest and most beautiful eyes that can speak a million words. Today, his eyes seemed to be saying, "I feel comfortable here" and "it may be worth the risk to fall in love".

I should mentioned that most of the time, he is happy. It's just the language of his eyes continues to change and keeps us tuned into how he is really doing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Time with cousins and Care Center friends

Last week Samson and I ventured out of town for a couple days. We spent the night at my sister's and Samson got a much needed play fix with his cousins. They spent four hours outside playing and running off energy, which was good for Samson and mommy. We both slept well that night!

The next day we arranged to meet up with a couple of Samson's toddler friends from Ethiopia. Yes - that's right!! Two of Samson's friends from the Care Center were adopted by a couple who live just over 2 hours from us!! I know!! - we are so lucky!!

Soon after we passed court, I met these two sweet sibling boys' adoptive mother through our agency's on-line forum. We discovered through each other's social reports that our boys were friends at the Care Center. Her and her husband picked up their sons a week after we came home with Samson. In fact, we met each other briefly passing through the Addis airport on our way home.
Here are the three boys playing at the Care Center in Ethiopia:

And here they are last week watching (with great interest) a sidewalk being replaced in the US:
They played well together and we hope to get the boys together again soon!

I am just thrilled that Samson could reconnect with his buddies and it's also a bonus for mommy to connect with another adoptive parent of toddlers. Thanks again for the play date T, M and T!

Monday, September 14, 2009


The bottom line - this attachment thing is not easy. I knew it wouldn't be. But it is much harder on this mother's heart than I thought it would be.

We know he enjoys being with our family, but even so, he still flirts with strangers and is not afraid to go to just about anyone. Some people think this is a good sign, that he is not shy, that he is just social. But this week we were reminded by our social worker that this is a sign that we have a long ways to go with attachment.

I am so in love with this little boy. It has not been hard for me to attach to him but him to me is still work in progress and it will be for a while. He seems to be the hardest on his mommy. I'm kind to him, give him everything he needs, have lots of fun with him all day long but I am also the one who puts him down for his naps, which he hates. So, when he wakes up from his nap, he remembers that I am that mean one. It's painful! Rejection is hard.

Another sign we have a long ways to go is that when I leave the house for a walk or an errand, he just waves and says, "bye, bye mommy". I want him to scream and cry because that would be a better sign he is attaching to me. But when I return, he runs to me, yelling "mommy's home, mommy's home!"

Oh, he does say, "mommy, I love you" often. But when he said "I love you ---" to the neighbor girl at our front door yesterday morning, I now wonder if he even knows what "I love you" means.

We are making progress, little by little. With patience, time and perseverance, it will happen. I know it will. The good thing is that I have him all to myself while the girls are in school and Steve is at work, so I know we will make much progress that way.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Another cool moment...

On Sunday of the week we were in Ethiopia, our group traveled to Hosanna, where our children's' original orphanage was located. This day was set aside for all the families to potentially meet birth family or a special person from their child's life.

Our son's story, how he became orphaned, is his story to tell some day. So, we will not be sharing any details about this special and sacred day for our family.

We left our guest house at 6:00 a.m. for the 3 1/2 hour bus ride. Along the drive, we could see mountains from a distance but mostly green, rolling hills and some very small farms with various crops, such as corn and banana trees. Trees were sparse. Most of the homes were constructed grass/mud huts, built in clusters, surrounding by stick fences. In the early morning hours we could even see smoke coming through the roof tops of the huts, from the open fires built inside.
There was so much scenery to take in and so much to think about. We knew this would be a very emotional, difficult day and it was evident by the quietness on our bus that others were feeling the same heaviness as I.
Just before we left for Ethiopia, a friend of mine, wrote the following verse in a card to me: "for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard." Isaiah 52:12.
I clung to this verse our entire week of travel. And at a time when I was feeling very anxious and unsettled on this bus trip, I prayed that God would go before our bus and prepare the birth families minds and hearts. I also prayed that God would protect all the adoptive families' hearts and lighten our load. I needed to feel God's presence and peace at that moment.
Just as I made these prayer requests to the Lord, Steve tapped me on the shoulder and showed me a picture he took of the sky. This is the picture: