Friday, January 29, 2010

Capturing Events

Samson had his first haircut in December. Steve had to keep one hand on him because he was a little nervous.....

...but he sat perfectly still the whole time

and we think he actually enjoyed his first cut.

Also, we are so amazed by Samson's growth since he has been home. He is a BIG eater! When we first received his referral information in May, his measurement were not on the US charts. now he is in the 50% for weight and 25% for height.

His favorite thing to eat for lunch is fried eggs. Some days he can eat 3 fried eggs and sometimes steals some of my peanut butter toast before he seems satisfied. I remember when Olivia was hospitalized at age 4 for a reaction towards an antibiotic. She was sick for 4 weeks, could not keep any food down for 21 days. At the end of her illness and when she got her appetite back, she ate 4 jumbo-sized fried eggs a day for one week. Her body was craving protein. Based on his big growth spurts, Samson's body must still be catching up as well.

Anyway, when we first came home with him, his head would clear the granite on the center island. Now, he has grown 3 inches and towers above the island:

His growth marks on our wall:

We are starting to add more playdates with other boys into our schedule. This was his first Dress Up playdate with a friend:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You Just Can’t Resist

Lauren wrote a poem about Samson...

You Just Can't Resist

Samson is my little brother.

Sometimes he’s so sweet.

Sometimes he’s sad.

Sometimes he’s mad.

And sometimes he is very annoying!

But you just can’t resist

That sweet little face that smiles at you,

That Elmo voice to tell you, “I love you,”

And the hands that reach up

and pull down your face.

The little figure before you

On his tiptoes

Stretching his lips up toward your cheek.

And when you feel

that big



placed on your skin,

your heart overflows

like a fountain

with love and compassion pouring out of it.

Even when he is Cookie Monster

and he pleads his mommy for




You just can’t resist

those big eyes,

that beautiful smile,
the cute little Elmo voice,
and that special kiss.
Even when he is Oscar the Grouch,
and he lays on the floor

pouting like a little puppy.

You just can’t resist.

You just can’t resist.

This is Elmo.

This is Cookie Monster.
This is Oscar the Grouch.
This is Samson, my brother.

You just can’t resist.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A first FIRST

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of watching Lauren cross the finish line FIRST in a cross country ski race. Not only that, but as an eighth grader, she skied JV. She skate skied a 5K and had someone from another team on her heals the entire race. At the end, she pulled away from her challenger to finish 20 seconds in front of her. I know I'm bragging here but she has worked so hard this season, so she deserves some recognition. We are so proud of her.

At the starting line, the first heat of girls take off:

Here she is crossing the finish line:

They gave out ribbons to the top 10 finishers. Lauren is at the far right holding her first FIRST PLACE ribbon for Nordic Skiing:

Hanging out before the race with some of the girls on her team:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Funny things...

We enjoy watching Samson's development progress. It's especially fun to see his interpretation of things. We are amazed at how fast he has developed his language skills but equally amused at how he relays and takes in information. Here are just a few examples:

Many times I call Avery by her first and middle names. For example, if her middle name was Jane, I would call her Avery Jane. Samson sometimes calls me "Mommy Jane".

Samson just started wearing "big boy" pants. He is not fully potty trained but experimenting. He likes to ask me if he can see my "big boy" pants.

He calls both Grandma and Grandpa, “Grandpa”. So if Grandma comes in the room, he will say, "Hi Grandpa!"

When I apply his lotion, I have said, "Mommy's going to put your lotion on." Now when he sees lotion, he says, "Look mommy! Lotion on!"

Each morning after we drop his sisters off at school, he will ask, "Mommy, where is Lauren" and I reply, "at school". Then he will ask about each girl. After I tell him that they are all at school, he says, "Mommy, Samson go to school?"

He loves garbage trucks and can spot one a mile away. Anytime we drive by anything that is a pickup size or bigger, he says, "Whoa! Mommy look! Big truck!" The joys of boys!

He has two different voices, one we like to call his Elmo voice that he uses when he wants something and the other is his Cookie Monster voice that he uses when he tries to be tough and gruff.

We go once a month to McDonald's for a adoptive family play group. This month when I was sitting at a table conversing with the other moms, I heard a child singing one of my favorite worship songs at the top of their lungs. The voice was coming from the top of a tower. I was just thinking about what a beautiful voice that child has and realized that it was Samson singing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The love of a parent

During Samson's first couple months home with us, he had to be overwhelmed. He made his first trip ever to a grocery store, he was introduced to his new house, his new bedroom, his first car seat; he played on a play set with a slide and swings for the first time in his life and he had to learn his third language.  And as if all of that isn't enough, he has a new family with siblings and a new mom and dad. He had and still has so much to learn.

His first months home with us, he didn't know who his mommy and daddy were. He called us mommy and daddy, but to him, those were our names and no more meaning beyond that. Because he had a few favorite nannies at his care center, he easily would go right into another woman's arms, so he did not identify with me as his mommy and main care taker. He did not identify with me as the one who will love him the most and have his best interest in mind.

In fact, the first couple months, Samson rejected me. He would tell me he loved me but he also told the neighbor girl he loved her. He didn't know what he was saying.

Rejection is tough and he seemed to reject me more than he rejected Steve. This was hard on me. Each day I would wake up and give it the Lord and hope that the day would come soon that he would finally understand that I am his mom, that I love him very much and that I will take care of his every need. At times I wish I could have pushed a fast forward button and be done with the attachment process. As hard as they were, these first days were important for him to find his place in our family and that would take time. He would have to learn to trust me. I would have to be patient.

I love him so much and often times lavish him with hugs and kisses. But when he was first home, he didn't want my kisses and hugs. In fact, sometimes he would brush them off his face or wipe spit on his tummy so I wouldn't want to blow on it. I probably would do the same thing if a stranger tried getting that close to me. He didn't know me.

But I was not willing to give up. From the suggestion of our social worker, I asked extended family and friends for some help. I asked them to turn Samson back to me if he goes to them for any of his needs, including wanting to be held. I asked them to please reassure Samson who his mommy is, how nice his mommy is and how she will take care of him.

Those we saw frequently, followed these new rules well. Samson needed to be told by others who I am to him and what that means to him in his life. He needed someone else to reassure him that I am a good person and that I will raise him well and protect him. I can understand his confusion and why he had a hard time trusting me. It's because he had been let down so many times in his life before.

I can't pinpoint a particular day or time but all of a sudden, things switched and he began to rely on Steve and I more for his every need; he began to call me mommy in a way that showed me that he knows me as more than just another person who happens to be around a lot in his life; he now tells me he loves me without prompting. He no longer wipes my kisses away or rejects my hugs. He asks for more kisses and hugs at bedtime. He has allowed me into his life.

When he wakes up from his naps, the first person he asks for is me. When he wants to snuggle at night, he wants me. He will not go down at night without a hug and kiss from me. Our most tender moments together are when he lets me hold and snuggle with him.

He doesn't try to control everything anymore. He gives more and more control over to Steve and I every day. I truly believe that he now accepts and knows our love as his parents.

I can't help but think about how our relationship is so similar to my relationship with God. There was a time in my life I did not know God. I knew who He was but in a way, I rejected Him as my Father and care taker. I did not have a Father/Daughter relationship with Him. I wanted control and independence over my own life. I didn't know how loving a relationship could be with Him.

Before I claimed God as my Father, I wonder how many times he held me and lavished on me. I wonder how many times he wished I would stop trying to control everything and just trust in his love and care for me. I wonder how much I missed out on because I didn't allow Him to direct my life.

I kind of unknowingly rejected God for several years of my life and I now know how painful that must have been for Him. But He never gave up on me. He still loved me. He still took care of me. He still claimed me as His child. He was patient with me.

I was thinking about how we are all orphans and until we accept God as our Father and enter into His Family, we will remain orphans. We will not know the love of our Father in heaven or know the benefits of being in His family if we don't ever begin a relationship with Him.

On June 16th, our adoption of Samson was final in Ethiopian courts. On December 16th, we finalized our adoption of Samson in the US court system. Once we say "yes" to God, our adoption is final. That's it!

Throughout this journey, I have learned more about the benefits of surrendering to a higher power and God's role as my heavenly Father than I have learned the first 40 years of my life. I have witnessed God's love lavished on me. I have felt tender moments together with Him as I had to give Him full control over our journey to Samson.

God has taught me to love as Christ has loved. I always thought I knew what love was, then God took me on this journey. I have learned to love with my guard down and with no pre-judgment of others. I have learned that the kind of love you receive from God, is love without restrictions or loopholes. It's pure, it's beautiful, it's simple.

I want to be that person who loves without boundaries - someone who God can use to show the rest of the world about His love and Grace. I want God to be the first one I call out to when I wake up. I have so much more to learn about love but I want to be that person who can show God's love to those who reject it like I had at one time. As part of His family, I count it as a privilege to tell others how He is a loving God, that He will take care of our every need and that He has our best interest in mind.

After all, if I would have ignored the Lord's prompting, if I would have not set aside my insecurities, if I would not have recognized my own self righteousness, I would not have one of the biggest treasures of my life - Samson.

(P.S. Click on the song "Orphans of God" on the playlist at the bottom of my blog. This song expresses just what I am learning.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Kids are worth your time...

Anyway, I just rocked Samson down for his afternoon nap. This is my favorite part of my day and our most tender moments together.

I always sing or hum while I rock him in my arms but today I cried. I was thinking about how far we have come on this journey together and one thought led to another.

Samson and I have been apart from each other less than 20 hours in the almost 5 months we have been home. I don't go too many places without him. In fact, we don't go too many places outside our home at all.

Four months with a new 2 year old in isolation has almost worn me out. I say almost because what has helped me keep my my sanity is knowing that he is all worth it.

During the first 4 months, I had several moments of frustration and breaking points. I know he was equally frustrated and rightly so.

But we have gotten to know each other a little more each day. Samson's language has helped us communicate better and we now very much enjoy each other's company almost all the time. We have had so many beautiful moments together learning from each other and growing together.

The thoughts that brought tears to my eyes were how lucky I am to call him my son and how lucky I am to be his mother. There has never been a time that I wished to go back or wondered what have we done.

However, there have been times that I was at the end of my rope, begging for relief or a break.

With our three girls, I didn't work near as hard at getting to know them or bonding with them. I have a great relationship with each of them. Even though we endured many frustrations parenting them over the years, nothing it seems has been as intense as the past 4 months.

So, when I was rocking him today, I cried tears of joy, tears of guilt and tears of sadness.

I was overjoyed with the tenderness of the moment, guilty about having thoughts of wanting a break from him and sad for other special people who were once part of his life and may never have another tender moment with him. Those who loved him first and still love him (no doubt) today, would welcome one more moment, one more hug and one more kiss with him.

I will try not to complain again about the struggles of parenting. Struggles only stretch us and shape us into better parents.

I also recognize that it is healthy to take a break from your kids. Recently, I have attended a couple of Lauren's cross country meets and left Samson with his grandma, which proved to be the time away we needed from each other.

Nontheless, our time together is nothing less than special and wonderful. He changed me. My children have always been one of the most important part of my life but I don't think I have always given my girls the quantity of time they deserve. I know I missed seeing some areas of their growth. I wish I could go back and do somethings over but for now I'm just thankful that I have many more parenting years ahead of me.

Samson has confirmed for me how much kids are worth your time. It's such a treat to watch him grow and change. Parenting is hard work but when you work hard, something good will come out of your hard work.

Monday, January 4, 2010

This family needs prayers

I have not blogged for a while mostly because I have been spending time with the family during the kids' break. I logged on this morning to blog about something but this is more important than anything else I have to say.

Remember the boy I visited at AHOPE orphanage when we were in Ethiopia? His name is Estifanos. I took pictures of him and emailed them to his adoptive family. His new mother has become a dear friend of mine on-line. She has come along side me throughout every stage of our adoption almost since the beginning. She has shared much wisdom in parenting an adopted toddler. She is my lifeboat a great encourager and supporter through my tough parenting moments. She helps me keep my sanity.

This beautiful family is adopting Estifanos and their daughter who they already passed court with but waiting for an Embassy date.

Estifanos cannot go home to his family until he gets an Embassy date. He cannot get an Embassy date until he passes court. The problem is, they have had several failed court dates. I don't know the exact number (at least 8 times, I believe) but more than I have ever known of a family to endure. This is devasting for him and his family. This loving family has waited much too long to bring their son and daughter home. They are at the end of their ropes, frustrated beyond belief.

So please visit their blog, write a comment of support and encouragement and pray until your hearts content! Pray that God will not only climb but move mountains to make everything come together for this sweet child to pass court.

His next court date is TOMORROW (or tonight in Ethiopia). Please remember to pray and keep this family in your thoughts before you go to bed tonight. Pray that the court is able to hear their case and that this family will have news to celebrate for tomorrow!