Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From Fairytale to Reality

We have left the Fairytale story and entered into the joys and frustrations of parenting with boundaries. However, when the excitement and newness of adding a child to your family wears off, there is still so much to appreciate and experiences to be thankful for. 

For example,

The nights it takes me 2 hours to rock him to sleep, I remind myself of those days I used to dream of rocking him.

The days he wants to be held all the time, I remind myself how long I waited for my first time to hold him.

On those days when we have to use his middle name (Samson Kelaye), sometimes even his full name, I am so glad we kept part of his birth name to honor his first family.

During times when he frustrates me and his cuteness will no longer let him get away with it, I remember his beautiful referral picture that I carried proudly in my purse and told friends that with those eyes, he will not be able to do anything wrong.

On those cold Midwest days when all he wants to do is play outside, I remind myself of the visions I had of chasing a son around the yard.

When his high-energy, toddler days wear me to complete exhaustion, I am thankful that he can run, walk, climb and jump.

When Steve and I work on consistency in disciplining him, I am thankful that we can seek God for discernment and direction.
When it seems like he wants to control everything, I understand why because most of his life has been out of his control.

When he throws a temper tantrum, I have to remember how much he has been through in his young life.

When I stumble over balls preparing dinner in the kitchen, I am so thankful for a son.

We may no longer be living in a fairytale, but Samson, you are a dream come true. And for this, I am thankful for the miracle of adoption. We may have stepped out of a fairytale but you will always be our Prince!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I was reading through my journal and came across some funny things I wrote about Avery when she was 4 years old.

The fist was when she came home one day from preschool and told me that she was trying to exercise at school and her teacher said, "no running in the classroom".

Then, one day she came to me with great excitement and pride in her voice and stated that she knew how to spell TV. Then she spelled, "OFF".

Finally, one time she claimed to be "smarter than a college grader."

She still makes us laugh and smile. I just need to remember to journal more.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Older Orphans

Our adoption journey in itself has been life changing, but there have been precious experiences along the way each in themselves, life changing.

One of those experiences was my visit to AHOPE orphanage in Addis. AHOPE houses children with HIV and one of their compounds was within walking distance of our guest house.

I'll start at the beginning...

I met an amazing woman online who is in the process of adopting 2 of these children. Her son, who I believe is 8 years old, was in the compound near our guest house. She asked if I would take pictures of him if I had the opportunity to visit AHOPE. I was very honored she asked and knowing how much this would mean to her, I was very willing to take on the task. You may remember that I have another online friend who traveled weeks before us and gave our Samson a hug from our family and told him we loved him. So, I know how priceless this connection can be.

Our week in Ethiopia was packed full of activities and each day we were there, my trip to AHOPE looked uncertain. I feared that I would not be able to carry out the task that I so honorably accepted.

But on our last day, a few of us from our travel group, through our guest house manager, were able to arrange a visit. And I am so glad I didn't let our week there end without this opportunity.
Upon arriving at the orphanage, we were first greeted by a guard at the gate between the walls of corrugated metal. Once inside the gate, we received a warm welcome from a few of the children who were playing in the courtyard.
After a brief orientation and tour from the director, I asked about my friend's son and it didn't take long before I was introduced to this amazing and handsome young man. The director explained to him that we wanted to take pictures of him to bring back to his new family in the US.

His big, beautiful, kind eyes lit up and the next thing he did was tuck in his shirt. At this point, I just melted. I was so touched by his kindness and desire to make a good impression. I took a few pictures of him and thanks to Julie, who was touring the compound with me, we were also able to get video of him.

During our adoption process, we have received numerous comments about how we are doing such a good thing for our son, like we are rescuing him. I never want to be admired for doing this "good thing". He is a gift to us as a result of a tragedy in his life. I would never consider him as the lucky one - we are the lucky ones. I could say more about how I feel about these comments but hopefully you get the picture.

However, I admire the families, like my friend's, who are willing to open their hearts and homes to older children, children who have a slim chance at being placed with a forever family.

Before I left for Ethiopia, I thought about all the older children who are orphaned. Their biggest wish is to be chosen by a family before it's too late, before they are too old to be adopted. (By the way, what I mean by older children are children who have been waiting because of their age.) There are tons of families open to children Samson's age. He was orphaned for 4 months before we brought him home. We waited 12 months for his referral. But there are older children who wait several years for their family.

I have read countless stories of older children praying in their orphanage bunks each night, that a family will come for them. I have also read on other adoptive parents' blogs letters they received from children, in the orphanage, who were not matched with a family. These letters were written as a plea for the family to please find them a family to call their own. My heart just aches for these children=(

Before I left for Ethiopia, I also thought about what a blessing a family and a home would be to an older, orphaned child. Then after I met my friend's son, I realized what a blessing this young man will be for his future family. I do not have first hand experience myself bringing an older child into my home, but do know from reading others' blogs that older children can bring as much joy, laughter and blessings to a family as a younger child. At least I would not be afraid of jumping into an older child adoption if that is where God leads us.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Styrofoam Toy

I recently looked through our pictures from our trip to Ethiopia and came across a picture that has left a lasting impression on me.

When our group traveled south of Addis to Hosanna, we saw many children out and about, curious about the Americans walking around their streets. Many of them greeted us with a hand shake and asked, "what is your name?" They were proud of the little English they knew to engage conversation with us. They all appeared to be happy with beautiful smiles.

As we were walking to our bus after touring a new school under construction, I noticed a group of about 5 - 6 children who were playing with a piece of styrofoam. It had been broken into many different pieces so that each child could have their own piece.

My thought at the time was that this piece of styrofoam was a treasure to them. They waved it to us as if to say, "Look at this!" "Look what we have!" They were so proud of their "toy". If only kids in America could be happy with a piece of styrofoam.

As our bus pulled away, these same children chased after the bus, waving their styrofoam.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2 Months Home!!

It feels like just yesterday that we met Samson for the first time. It seems like just yesterday when we saw the fear in his eyes and felt the resistance in his body language as his nannies handed him over to our family. It seems like just yesterday when we boarded a plane to come home with the most amazing gift ever - a new son. We were in love!!!
But what was he thinking? Where did he think he was going? I can only imagine what was going through his head! Poor thing - it's understandable that he would be afraid! The whole time I was thinking, "if he gives us a chance, he will learn to trust and love us as his forever family. No more disruptions. No more moves. Just give us a chance to show you the love of a forever family."
2 months ago, we left as a family of 5 and came home as a family of 6. It seems like just yesterday but at the same time, it feels like he has been with us forever.

Some of the changes we have seen in 2 months:

When we came home, he only understood his language and we communicated using sign and body language. 2 months home, he fully understands what we ask of him and his English is growing by leaps and bounds. Some common phrases and words he says:
"Mommy, watch this!" "Daddy, look at me!" (when he wants to show off one of his many talents)

When he sees or hears an airplane, with finger raised in the air, he shouts out, "Airplane! Airplane!"

"That's Yunnie's!" Yunnie is what they called him at the care center and when he claims something as his, he calls it Yunnie's.

He can say his ABCs and count to 10.

He is extremely independent and says, "I want to do it" to almost everything, including turning on and off light switches, dressing and undressing himself, applying his own lotion, changing his own diaper, applying his own shampoo. He wants to be in control of everything!

Some English words and phrases that are cute:
"Sammyson" (Samson)
"base a mint" (basement)
"Kee Kee George" (Curious George)
"Opsiea" (oops)
"lo shun on" (I want to put my own lotion on)
"Olawfia" (He still says this for Olivia)

Physcial changes:
He has grown over 2 inches!

He continues to grow stronger. After two months home, he can pull himself up on our bed, go down a slide sitting up instead of laying down and he also climbs stairs more on his own instead of asking to be carried.

And the most rewarding changes we have seen are in the area of attachment:

When we were first home, he would wave "bye bye mommy" when I left the house.

2 months home, he clings to me when I try the leave the house.

When we were first home, he fought hard not to be put down for nap time.
2 months home, he snuggles in and molds to my body for nap time and sings lulabyes along with me.

When we were first home, he would allow us to kiss him but would not give kisses.
2 months home, he gives out many kisses, sometimes unsolicited.

When we were first home, he would go to just about anyone.
2 months home, he prefers his mommy and daddy.

And the list can go on.....

We are so LUCKY - our family is overflowing with love!!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

First Fall

This is Samson's first time to experience the beauty of fall - pumpkins, changing leaves, apple orchard and a hike through the woods. Check out our scarecrows and flowers: