One Month Home

I cannot believe that one month ago, we were basically surviving the most horrific, ear splitting, exhausting trip home.  Yet, here we are, one months later…..alive and…well?

I kid.

We are doing well.

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There have been approximately 1, 456, 743, 222 screaming, raging, kicking, full on tantrums around here over the last month. This child has good lungs. She definitely has a “force to be reckoned with” personality.  Her stubborn streak beats many, but I have experience and determination, so we are a match.

Let’s see, what can I say…..

Medically, Glory has checked out well.  We still have a sedated MRI and appointments with neurology as well as ophthalmology and ENT, but so far, it has been all good news.  She does not have a brain bleed anymore, she does not (as far as they could see with a singular scan) have fluid on her brain, although they still say hydrocephalus due to her head size and ventricles. Developmentally, she was as behind as you would expect any orphan from a third world country to be.  Everything is rolling along medically, and so far, looking very good.

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She LOVES taking a BATH now!

I know, we took all of those fully clothed baths, and thought that perhaps she would never get fully cleaned.  Now, you can’t keep her out of the tub though.  We have to constantly tell her to back up when we are bathing Grace and Zeke.

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She LOVES to EAT now!

Well, she loves to eat seconds, therefore is motivated to eat the vegetables that I put on her plate. It’s crazy to think that just one month ago, we were in the hospital because she was so stubborn and mad, that she refused to eat.  Now, she easily clears a second plate. Once she realized that mom was not going to give in to her tantrums, that screaming actually gets you nothing especially a second plate when you haven’t eaten the food on the first,  that she landed in a house where the mom is a great cook, and that all of these different kinds of food are really tasty and fun to eat…..she decided to just eat.  I have a few tips and tricks for how we have progressed, that I will share later.  Let’s just say that we didn’t just jump into it right away, there was a week that she only ate spaghetti and bananas.

Glory and Zeke

The other children have begun to warm up to her.  At first, she spent a lot of time pulling their hair, throwing stuff at them, hitting them, and filling the air with loud screams.  She has stopped hitting them (except Andy and I think she’s playing with them), and we had to teach her that she could rub their hair, not pull.  As she adjusted, they began to see her personality outside of the screaming.

When she gets to laughing, it is an infectious full of feeling laugh.  She fills the room with joy.  The kids will find ways to make her laugh, because in turn, they start to laugh as well.  It is contagious.  They love to make her smile.  They also have no problem walking away when she throws a tantrum and ignoring it until she decides to chill.

I think kids understand that other kids have bigger emotions than their vocabulary.

Sometimes, I have bigger emotions than my vocabulary.

Zeke is also three, and let’s say, he has big emotions as well.  When he throws a fit, Glory walks over and points at him as if to say, “look y’all he’s doing it to.”

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Do ya’ll know how hard it is to get 6 children to sit still, look at the camera, and smile at the same time…

This last month has been a very long month, but a very good one over all.  I would say that we are learning and growing.  Glory is VERY attached to me, almost maybe overly attached.  She follows me, stares at me, sits next to me, and has a giant cow if I am out of sight.  We have begun to make more of those moments now where I am not her main caretaker, as we were were advised by our post-adoption clinic social worker.  It is normal what she is doing, Anna went through the very same thing.  It is smothering, I am not going to LIE, but it is also flattering and rewarding.  I get to actually mother this child who never had a mom.  She is digging having a mom.  I mean someone who you can’t steam roll to get what you want, who still hugs and loves on you, who kisses your boo boo’s, and is silly enough to pick you up and dance around the living room with….but also wipes your butt.

That’s a win in life for sure.

I have to say that we feel complete as a family and so thrilled with our final little member.  She keeps us on our toes and crying for ear plugs, but also forces us to grow and stretch as humans.  Watching her overcome her fear of baths, embrace this new life as well as she has, and still have smiles….that’s powerful stuff.  It actually is a true blessing.

 

The First Week

Glory and I landed in America 9 days ago.  What a whirlwind it has been.  This child was not happy (ha that is the biggest understatement of the century) about being contained in a seatbelt on a plane.  She screamed for hours.  She tormented the ears of all on the plane. It was exhausting, the most exhausted I’ve ever been in my life.

We made it though.

We made it home to a sick household.

I took her to the doctor for the very foul smelling ear that she has had her whole life, and due to her lethargy, we were sent to the Children’s hospital three hours away.  She spent the night, had some pictures taken of her brain, and was detected to have severely low blood sugar.

The good news was that her brain does not have a hemorrhage.  She has enlarged ventricles and decreased brain matter as well as a large skull, but nothing that was in dire need of medical intervention at that time.  We will get a better diagnosis and idea of what the prognosis is once she spends the day with the neurosurgeon team.

Her blood sugar was cause for her lethargy.  She was given glucose in an IV and kept overnight for observation.  When she was discharged we were given ear drops and anti-fungal meds.  The ear drops have been a life changer for her! She finally knows what it’s like to be without ear pain after ALL of those ear infections.

She is integrating into the house as we all build around her as well.  As it stands, she has severe separation anxiety with me.  If I go to the bathroom and shut the door, she throws a screaming fit.  The first few days she also threw a fit if she was told no, but she’s learned that fits to get what you want will get you nowhere.  However, she has also learned that even naughty behavior still leaves you with parents who love you and give you hugs.

I’m sleeping in the girls’ room right now.  Glory doesn’t get up every hour to cry anymore, but she does get up to check that I’m there.  We have decided not to rush this one.  She has built attachment and now she needs to build security.  It will come.

The best part is that she is taking baths! Well okay, today was the first day she took a bath willingly and SAT down in the tub.  She did it all on her own.  Then she proceeded to pour water on her belly and laugh and laugh.  She’s quite the character, and that was a true joy to witness.  It took weeks of partially clothed stand up baths to get to this point, but now it’s as if she has always taken them and loves the water.

Food wise, we have quite the opposite of what we experienced with our other two.  Anna and Tanner came home with severe food obsessions.  Food issues that we are still battling, seven years later.  They will still eat far past the vomit point if allowed, they will still eat such big bites that we have to do the Heimlich, Tanner will steal food if the opportunity presents itself, and so on and so forth.

We expected this with Glory, but we have just the opposite.  She doesn’t want to eat food.  That is how we ended up in the hospital.  She refused food for so long that her blood sugar crashed.  However, we have developed a list of things she will eat.  She is up to bananas, oranges, toast, bacon (yeah she thought it was like gold or magic or something), AND spaghetti.  She will eat spaghetti however many times you will give it to her.  We now make giant pots to have on hand.  She is eating whole wheat pasta, homemade sauce, and extra mean in her spaghetti though, so at least she is getting some nutrition.  She also ate a piece of cake last night.

Now, let us talk about personality.  I LOVE this child! Oh man she’s a tiny little ball of fire and giggles.  One minute she’s melting down because she threw all of the books on the floor and has been told that she has to pick them up and the next minute she’s cracking up into big ole belly laughs over something.  She has been pretty mean to the other children, but then she’s also hugged and kissed on them.  I think having parented a three year old before (twice) and having another one in the house helps to know what we should freak out over or not.  Having parented previously orphaned kids also helps.  We went into this adoption expecting the absolute worst, thankfully what we have in our little girl, is most definitely not that.  She’s just amazing.  I am so grateful that she gets to be in our family, her infectious laughter fills our home with extra life.

I would say it has been a great first week home…..but I have had RSV and my husband had to be gone half of it, plus we had that overnight in the hospital….so it has been exhausting and challenging….but still pretty great.  I am so glad to have her home.

Discounted 

This child is amazing! I’m sure I’ve said that right? I was not looking for her. I called about a child in Haiti, I had no idea that Ethiopia was so I g adoptions still.

When I heard that Haiti would take 17 months, I voiced my concern over the wait. I was told about this little girl that no one would accept the referral of. 

I understand. Her head was so large and her body so small. John never hesitated about her, we thought she would be home in 12 months. 

Nothing fell into place and it took 2 years. It seemed almost hopeless. 

She was dicounted by others though and I could not give up.  She was our daughter.

She was looked at and denied but oh is she a smart gal. She sings her alphabet in English, has picked up so many English words in just a week, dresses herself, and studies things intently in order to do them herself. She has battled her head size and weight, chronic ear infections, and being an Ethiopian orphan….and yet she triumphs. What a spirit she has. We never thought she would walk and she runs, we never thought she would talk and she sings. 

She is not one to be underestimated or discounted. I am proud to be her mom. I can’t wait for her to meet her brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and grandparents 🙂 

Who’s in charge here?

We are together, she and I, in a room for the weekend with nowhere to be. After the tylenol, hydration, and a bath, we are at that point now where we establish that mommy is more than a name. 

She feels great-ish and now she wonders if she has any boundaries. Children need boundaries, even children who have severe special needs and have been orphans for years. Boundaries make them feel secure. 

So when she threw the iPad and I took it away, I let her throw a fit without much acknowlegement. At the foster home, the nannies didn’t want her to cry in my presence so they often pacified or coddled her. I don’t mind a fit, it doesn’t freak me out, this ain’t my first rodeo. 

She decided the fit would get her nowhere and we should cuddle. She is testing what she can do, grabbing things she shouldn’t and laughing. Throwing herself down and then screaming when I pick her up and move her out of danger. Shoving her hand down her diaper or smashing the phone…it’s a test.

We take this test strategically.  I am Mommy, I am safe, she trusts me. We have to maintain that security while establishing that mommy is not a pushover. So I pick my battles. She wants to brush her teeth a million times, that’s fine. She runs in to get the soap, not an issue. She wants to play soccer with a can of nuts in the bathroom while I’m using it….hey why not.  She pummels me with said can of nuts, nope…not okay. 

I believe she is coming to realize that I am in charge and that the tantrums will get her nowhere. She is also undertaking something extremely frightening. As adoptive parents we often bubble over with excitement at finally “getting our kid.” 

This kid already had a life though. No matter what that life is like, it is a familiar for them, and we are the unfamiliar. We are enthusiastic and some parents feel like they are “rescuing” a child so the child should be happy. 

No.

This child of mine has been handed over to a woman that doesn’t look anything like her caregivers did. This woman doesn’t even talk right. The specifics are cloudy but she was put in a car and poof….. Life is completely different forever.

On top of that, her ears are draining and she is congested. She is getting lots of water which is good, but it takes a toll on the digestive system. So many things are going on for this small child. 

So she loves me. I am safe. I am Mommy. But she also hates me. I took her away from her home. I took her away from everything she has ever known. 

This is okay. This is normal. We will gently establish that Mommy is a caregiver with firm boundaries and lots of love. We will slowly work through grief and anger as we build a new life together. It takes time. 

We have time. 

First Bath

How do you teach a child to not be afraid of the bath?

This is day 3 of Glory being in my care. She has screamed every time I tried to get her near the bath tub. Last night I did something I did NOT want to do. I undressed and got into a tub of yellow water….the color of the water here. She stood at the side of the tub with wide eyes. I wonder if this fluffy super pale naked woman or the bath was more scary?…

So that was her introduction. She watched everything with fierce intent. 

Then today I I had her wash her hands with the tub faucet. Then let it fill a bit more with just tepid water, and gave her a cup to play. I showed her how to splash and she did well. 

She would not let me undress her so….

I got into the tub fully clothed and splashed and jumped like a fool.

She thought it was funny and decided to get in as well. I lifted her into the tub and first she would just stand. She didn’t like getting her pants wet so she let me take her pants and diaper off.

Finally she sat down to play in the water but with her shirt on. 

I scrubbed her good while she played even under her shirt. 

When I got her out she let me take her shirt off and ran off butt naked to get a pile of socks…must always have your feet covered you know. Eventually she let me lotion her and dress her and hey….her clothes today got a good wash.

Her favorite jammies were dry, and her boots were ready lol. 

It was worth soaking our clothes and a yellow bath to help her understand that a good scrub can make you feel amazing. I was able to get her some Tylenol today so I’d say it’s a very good day. 

You never think about there being people out there who have never had a bath. A real bath. Puts things into perspective. 

Court Date!!!

Due to some interesting circumstances, John and I are both going to Ethiopia tomorrow….well we won’t arrive until Monday after 30 hours of flight/layover time….just in time for court on Tuesday!!!!

Finall after two years, finally we will be a family of 8!

I can’t even believe this is happening. We had to arrange some crazy kid scheduling and I had to do laundry and pack like crazy today. I am so excited. When both adults are finally back in this house, Glory will be here to! All of the tears, setbacks, financial hurdles, prayers, whew….all of it will mean something in just four days when she is legally our daughter. 

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. 

I might have a heart attack!

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Alright ya’ll.  Here we are literally waiting any time for notice of a court date…..again.  Our police letter has been updated and turned into the courts.  We should hopefully hear tomorrow.

I’ve said that three days this week.

Every single day, I have waited to have this letter turned in, and hear of a final adoptive court date.  Every day. Meaning that at 1am and 3am and 4:32am, I have awakened to check my email to see if maybe just maybe it was there.

“IT” the final golden ticket.  The last hurdle to making her legally our daughter.

Ofcourse there are a few hurdles after that before exiting the country.

After court, John has the option of taking custody of Glory.  We both have to be in country to apply for a birth certificate.  I would have to leave the kids in the care of family and fly over.  We had initially thought we’d have to wait until March 13 for this, but my brother and sister in law have agreed to baby sit a few days at my mom’s, where my sister has agreed to also babysit a few days, and my mom and stepdad have offered to watch them the other days…

I owe them ALOT!

This new development means that if all the stars align, we could have Glory home this month!!!!!

We just need that court date.

I can’t bear the thought of her staying in country any longer.  Her country is beautiful and full of amazing people, but she bonded to me.  We spent hours building this new relationship, and then I left.  It’s almost to much.

So we pray for everything to line out perfectly….er…atleast semi perfectly from here out.

I came home.

I have been home two days, it has been three days since I have seen our sweet girl.  My heart is cracked, and I have had nightmares of never being able to bring her home.  In my mind, I know that she will be home in the next month and a half….I just know it.

Yet, I am here, without her.

I came home. Home…..She should be home. Here with her brothers and sister, in my arms, finally getting her head cared for.

I am only consoled by the fact that we are just a bit from our end goal, and that she is doing so amazingly well with the love and care that she is receiving.

 

First Visit Today

I was able to visit Glory by myself this morning without other parents and kids in the room. It was so great to have that time on our last day. She sat in my lap and talked and just felt so peaceful. She is precious. Oh she’s a ball of energy and sass but just such a sweetie. She watched videos of her siblings and kissed their pictures. She has an idea of who they are I think. She says their name and kisses them and then says her name. I think she gets that we are her people but she does not understand that I am leaving today. I pray that a miracle happens and John could get court and passports etc by himself and being her home in February. I don’t know how I will say goodbye without a date for seeing her again, but I have to. I have other kiddos who need their mommy. She is in great hands, secure and loving hands.