Friday, June 25, 2010

Play Date with Care Center Friends!

Last June, the day after the Ethiopian courts declared Samson our son, our agency sent us a social report an update on his health and numerous photos for us to enjoy. Soon after, another family not far from where we live passed court with two precious sibling boys. Through our on-line forum, the new adoptive mom of these boys and myself connected and discovered that not only were our boys very close friends with each other at the Care Center but each of our social reports contained numerous photos with all three boys playing together. We were up until midnight one night emailing each other pictures back and forth.

Their family traveled the week after we did, so we got to meet their boys in Ethiopia. What I remember most about our 3 boys is the glossed over look in their eyes, especially Samson and their youngest, T. It was so sad to see the pain and fear in their eyes. Today, they all have a different look about them, much more happy, comfortable and content. It's so good to see in their eyes how well they are each doing.

At the Care Center, what we remember most about seeing this family's youngest boy, T is when he was sitting on the potty chair near Samson with bib overalls with a very blank look on his face and eating meals together from the metal bowls.

One day when we visited the Care Center, we found their oldest boy, M sitting on the floor with Samson sitting between his legs. M had his arms around Samson's waist, like a protective brother. It was so sweet.

But the sweetest thing of all is that the boys, after 10 months home, still remember each other. It was especially cute to hear M and T refer to Samson as "Yunnie", his Care Center name.

 The three boys were inseparable for 2 hours of hard play time. It was as if no time had passed since we last saw them in September.

As you can see, it was very difficult to get all three to look at the same time. Most of my pictures look like this:

It was not easy to say good-bye at the end of our time together but fortunately, we will see each in another 2 weeks at our annual agency's Ethiopian picnic.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Celebrating Fathers

Yesterday we gathered with our small group, worshipped, studied scripture and ate together. We gather as families, kids included, so we also included a time to pay tribute to the special fathers in our lives. Each child took turns sharing with their fathers what they mean to them. It was a very special time.

I have so much to learn from Steve in regards to patience and his way of making time to spend uniquely with each kid. He has an incredible gift to handle with great care and grace the girls and their never ending drama. Whereas I get exhausted and fall into the trap of joining the drama, he always remains calm. How do men do that?

In the afternoon, we went boating. One example of Steve's patience is that he gave each of us a chance to drive the boat. Even Samson had his opportunity and when the driving got a little crazy, Steve remained calm while my heart rate went up.

One of my greatest joys during our adoption journey is to watch the attachment between Steve and Samson grow. Samson absolutely ADORES his father! The first thing he asks each morning is "Where is Daddy?" When Steve arrives home from work, Samson is the first to greet him at the door with a huge smile.

To him, Steve is a "fix everything" kind of guy. When something breaks, Samson says, "My daddy will fix that!" When he gets hurt, daddy is his first choice for him to band aide or kiss the wound.

Samson is so proud of his daddy.When we are out in public or with friends and family, he likes to pat Steve on the back and say, "This is MY Daddy!"

So glad we have a day set aside to celebrate fathers!

Friday, June 18, 2010

3 more weeks

Samson had his cast removed yesterday and it was very uneventful - thank God!!!

However, while the doctor was reviewing the X-Ray, he was scratching his head and saying hmmm - never a good sign if a doctor is scratching his head.

The good thing is that the bones had healed some but the bad news is that there is still much healing that needs to take place.

So, on with another cast for 3 more weeks. The doctor thinks everything should be completely healed by then.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Turning Eleven

We are celebrating our dear Olivia's 11th Birthday today!!

Olivia is...

                 a Dream Daughter
                          Beautifully Bold
                          Amazingly Artistic
                          Particularly Passionate about Peter Pan
                          a Crazy and Compassionate Child 
                         Aspiring Actress              
                         Surprisingly Supportive Sister 
                         a Fearless Friend to all                               
                         Mostly Matter of Fact 
                         and Joyful about Jesus.

She also loves spaghetti, the color Blue and anything CHOCOLATE.

This is also the anniversary of the Ethiopian courts declaring Samson our son. Yes - we passed court on Olivia's birthday. So today, we have much to celebrate!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Attachment both ways

Samson gets his cast off in less than two weeks. After the first night of having the cast, it's almost like he doesn't even have one. He just is not bothered at all by it, other than a few limitations. The only time I remember that he is wearing it is when I get clobbered in the head with it during the night. (Yes, he still sleeps between Steve and I.)

Today I want to share our turning point with attachment. We continue to make headway with attachment each day but it took Samson to break his arm for us to see that the attachment is really happening and to witness how much headway we have really made. I'll try my best to paint a picture of what this turning point looked like for us.

When Samson first went down on the trampoline and we decided that he broke his arm, we were in the mode of 'let's get him in the car and get to the hospital quick'. Then on the way, I was so worried about what he would think of us now. I was worried that he would lose some trust in us and blame us for this accident, causing the attachment to regress.

He was clearly in pain, weeping hard. When I picked him up to put him in the car he gave me a confused look and the question on his face was, 'why is this happening to me?' We reassured him all the way to the ER that we were going to take care of him and everything would be OK. We tried to be strong for him.

When we arrived at the hospital, we were still in that mode of 'get him in quick'. Then I felt it, I was losing strength and the pain a mother feels for her hurting child kicked in. I asked Steve if he would take him in while I parked the car because I was concerned that it would be too much for me. Looking back, this was my first indication that my attachment to him was real.

We could hear him screaming from the waiting room - the screams were louder and more intense than I have ever heard him scream. His screams pierced the very heart of my soul. A woman came in with very severe stomach pains and when they gave her a barf bag, I felt like asking for one myself. This was my second clue that my attachment to him has become real.

If I would hear about a child in the community breaking his arm, I would be unmoved by this but still feel bad for the boy and his parents. If a child in our neighborhood were to break their arm, again, I would feel bad for this child and their parents but a little more touched by it because I know the child. If one of my nephew's were to break their arm, I would feel bad again and even more touched because I'm their aunt and I should feel more pain for them.

The pain I felt when I heard Samson's screams was the pain a mother would feel watching their child go through something like this. It was real. He wasn't someone else's child. He was my child. Other people were in the waiting room too. They heard my son's screams but it didn't move their emotions like it did for Avery and I.

When the nurse came out to ask me to take over for my husband, this was my first clue that Steve felt the pain of a parent. I had to pull myself together. I had to be strong for my son and my husband and pretend I could handle this.

We've struggled with attachment over the months. We often times found ourselves not knowing how we were going to survive the next tantrum. We were becoming increasingly irritated by Samson wanting complete control over everything. We wondered if he will ever relax and trust us more.

Well, in a weird way, his broken arm was a gift to us because not only were our eyes open to how much we love him as his parents but also how much he really has grown to trust us. Now that he has a broken arm, there are fewer things that he can do on his own. He can still do most things but it's been pure joy to watch him rely on us more. This experience could very likely be the best thing that has ever happen to our attachment.

This time I caught myself pretending to be strong for my son and my husband, to not be moved. Throughout the months of watching our attachment to each other grow, I did a lot of pretending the other way.

God caught Steve and I in our weakness and through our weakness, he opened our eyes to something very beautiful happening within our relationship with Samson. I have never seen a more beautiful picture of God's redemption.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Junk Posse

I have to put a plug out there for Junk Posse. When I received my piece for Mother's Day right around our referral of Samson last year, I knew very little about this on-line store.

I put the necklace on the first day it arrive in the mail and did not take it off until one day 4 months later, I lost it. It fell from my neck.

I was at my daughter's parent tennis meeting. On our drive home from the meeting, I reached for my necklace around my neck and it was gone!! I immediately did a U-turn, went back to the school, searched the parking lot, the lawn and the meeting room. My necklace was no where to be found!

I only knew maybe 2 other parents at attendance at the meeting, asked each of those parents if they had by chance found my necklace and picked it up. No such luck!

I went home very disappointed. This necklace meant a lot to me. I had been wearing it since Samson's referral and it traveled on my neck to Ethiopia and back. I know that it's just a thing and even though I could replace it with one like it, it would not mean the same to me. I was heart broken until...the next day.

Lauren went to school and was called to the office soon after arriving. The secretary in the office handed her MY NECKLACE!!!! She asked Lauren, "is this yours?" Lauren said, "YES! It's my mom's!! She lost it - thank you so much!" (at least that is what she told me she said). She gladly took the necklace and couldn't wait to give it me at the end of the day.

When I picked her up, she said, "Guess what mommy?!! The office had your necklace!!"

I immediately cried tears of joys and screamed with excitement when she presented it to me. Then I asked her who found it. She didn't know and didn't think to even ask. The secretary just handed it to her!!???????
To this day, we have not been able to thank the person who found my necklace because we don't know who found it. If they only knew what this necklace means to me.

Now I have had the joy to watch 4 more necklaces made by Junk Posse make their way to their new owners, each having significant meaning to each of these beautiful women.

What I have learned from one of my friends who purchased a necklace from Junk Posse is that Traci, the owner and designer of this fine jewelry prays over each piece before she mails them to their new homes.

If in fact she did pray over my piece, that very likely added an extra piece of protection over it, preventing me from losing it for good. I believe an angel was watching over this necklace.

Now getting back to Traci, the one who designs and hand creates these masterpieces...

Not only is each piece made of sterling silver and hand crafted by Traci but when you purchase a piece from Junk Posse, you support several non profit organizations and adoptions.

These are 3 other pieces that I have seen in person. Each unique in design and amazingly beautiful:

Our African Angel

Love Goes Around

Under the Same Moon

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On the Banks of Plum Creek

I don't admit this often but I grew up "On the Banks of Plum Creek". Actually, I grew up on a farm where the creek runs through my dad's field.

Growing up in a town that got its name on the map for a popular TV series wasn't a big deal to me. In fact I have been more inclined when I tell someone where I'm from, to name the next largest city close to my town just to avoid all the questions about Laura Ingalls.

I have seen the local museum, attended the outdoor play at dusk and visited the Ingalls family caved in sod hut probably almost 100 times each. But during my years of growing up, I didn't think much of any of this stuff.

Now that I have a family of my own, my girls have helped me appreciate all the history and culture of this small town called Walnut Grove. They walk through the museum at least once a year and each time they find something new they hadn't noticed before, they are excited to give me the update. They are very fascinated by Laura's story to the point that they can't get enough of the sights around my home town.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we visited my parents on the farm. The kids visited the sight where Laura once lived and they toured the museum.

The following pictures are taken of a replica of the sod hut the Ingalls lived in. Someone in our group made the comment about how they couldn't believe a family actually lived this way at one time. I couldn't help thinking how similar it is to the way Samson lived the first 2 1/2 years of his life.

One room school house
The schoolhouse included this old world map. This is a close up of Ethiopia but I couldn't find a year on the map.

My parents are very active in their small community with their church and "Laura Days". I like to call my dad "Mr. Walnut Grove". He has a wealth of knowledge, so obviously he has taken more of an interest and has paid more attention than I had all my years growing up on the farm.

But now, when I watch my own kids' excitement over what made this small town famous, I have taken a little more interest in learning more myself.

There were some aspects of growing up in this town that I thought were cool. For one, over the past decades, we have had many celebrities visit our small town. In recent years, my parents have hosted a few of these former or present actors in their home. They hosted Dean Butler (Almanzo), Kevin Hagen (Doc) and Cheryl Landon (Michael's daughter).

I was able to meet Kevin Hagen in 1999 when Olivia was just a new born baby. His sweet wife held her a lot because she loves babies. Kevin talked about his time acting in Westerns and about his celebrity friends. They were just the sweetest couple, very humble and very down to earth.

This past weekend, we also enjoyed several hours of Go-Carting and 4-Wheeling. We had to peel Samson off the Go-Cart to allow someone else a turn. He could have ridden for 10 hours if we let him.

Then last but not least, visiting my 90 year old grandmother June is a must when we make the trip to the big WG.

One last thing...we had the opportunity to meet a very special family over Memorial Day. Nicki, Corey and their precious daughter Allie recently moved to a farm less than 1 mile from my parents. Nicki and I met on our agency's forum and they are 1 year into their wait for an infant from Ethiopia. Small world, hug?!