Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Know You!

There is something wonderful that happens after you adopt a child. It happens between you and your child. You start to know each other.

Most times you adopt a child that is a stranger to you, and you are certainly a stranger to this child, especially with international adoption. Your genetic make-up is different, your personalities are different, your cadence of life is different, and then you are given the blessing to be this child's parent. This strange little stranger is yours. And you don't know each other at all.

But with time, you learn each others smells and laughs and glances. You know how that little body feels in your arms and that those tearful eyes mean hunger...or hurting...or needing a hug...or anger...or fear. And you fall into a rhythm with each other. It sneaks up on you in a gentle hushed way and one day whispers, "You are a family."

It just takes my breath away.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Many children that join families through adoption have so much fear. I see it in the pictures of the children that are newly home. I saw it both times in Ethiopia in the other children, and I saw it in my son's eyes and in my daughter's eyes. It can come out as many behaviors. It can come out as sadness, anger, or a need to be in constant motion. It can come out at as shyness, being withdrawn, a wide-eyed look, or clingyness. With my son, I wish I had done a better job of recognizing. But the "I wish..." and "I should have..." don't do much good now. I just wrap it up in a hug the best I can when I see it in my son now, and my mom is so good at this. She is so good for my son.

With my daughter, her fear wasn't/isn't as noticable. She is most fearful of being wrapped too tightly or held too close. She almost looks like she is in pain and tears spring to her eyes. It is scary for her probably because it triggers some scary/sad/confusing memory for her. So we have been working on this. I wait for when she is ready to have the towel around her after bath. I rock her before nap time, talking gently, and singing. It's working. I can see the fear disappearing slowly. And she wants to be closer to me since we have been working on this more. She want to rest her head on my shoulder more. Eventually it will just be natural, for now, it is work.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snug in My Bed

It is now quite apparent that my children were quite different at homecoming. I thought I would always rush in to pick up my daughter every time that she cried in her bed like I did with my son. However, last week, we entered a different mode. She had been home for over two months and had been consistently sleeping soundly in her crib during nap time and at night for a month. Suddenly she wasn't going to sleep during naps, but crying because I would come rushing in to comfort her.

For two days during afternoon nap it was torture. I went in when she cried; I helped her lay back down and I left. I think the first day I probably went in 50 or more times, the second day maybe 25. I questioned myself like I always do. It was hard. She was mad. And now she sleeps soundly during her nap times.

She snuggles into her bed with her blankie and puppy dog until she falls asleep and she is a much happier baby, and I am a much happier mom.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


My son came home hitting. I would like to say I was always calm; that I handled it well, everytime, everyday, but I didn't. I knew I wanted to gently hold his hands and tell him, "No hitting. That hurts, Mommy." The truth is I did this, but I also showed my anger on my face and with my tone. My son was coming from a place of fear, and I know that my anger only played into that place of fear.

If I could go back and do this again with my son, this is one of my responses I would have changed with him. This was really one of the most frustrating behaviors he had, but I understand it now.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Today I would like to tackle the sleep issue. It is one that I feel good about; I feel like I mostly got this right from the very beginning. I don't feel this way about everything.

It helped that it was just my son and I. I didn't have any other children to tuck into bed. I could rest when my son did.

First, I'll talk about night time. The first 2-3 weeks, he slept in my bed. We would do the bedtime routine, pajamas, teeth, read books, and then I would rock him. Usually I would rock him to sleep, and I know that everyone might not agree with this, but I rocked him for well over a year for every nap and every bedtime, and when I was at work, my mom would rock him. I loved it; I miss it. Anyway, once he was asleep in my bed, I would try to sleep too, but I would often end up on the couch. He awoke often. I went to comfort him every time, every night. I never let him cry it out; I don't agree with that method with adopted children.

After a few weeks, he was sleeping more soundly, so I would put him in his crib at night, and I would sleep on a twin mattress next to him. He would often glance at me to make sure I was there. Sometimes he would fall asleep holding my hand. It was sweet. It was tiring. I remember the first blessed night we both slept the whole night in our own beds. Heavenly.

Naptimes were much harder. My son would usually fall asleep as I rocked him, but once in his crib, he would wake up crying so many times. His cries were of a scared little boy. Each time I would get him and rock him back to sleep. I can't even remember how long it took for him to finally sleep through naps. If he had an exceptionally busy day he would wake up more during nap time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Once my daughter gets home, I will have experienced two different adoptions. One of my son, who was about two years old at homecoming in 2008. This would be considered a toddler adoption. One of my daughter, who will be about 11 months at homecoming. I know that each experience will be completely different and that each child is different, but I would like to chronicle some of our experiences in hopes of helping, or just empathizing with, other families.

A little background on my son. He is full of life. When it comes to fight or flight situations, he will fight...every time,but he is learning to control this. He is smart and fiesty. He is goofy and a tease. He also likes to be in control, and I am not sure if this is nature or nurture, but he is who he is. And I love him.

My first reflection will be on hand holding, because it was one of the hardest things for us to tackle. On homecoming, my son was at an age when he was striving for independence, but needing dependence too, and would jump between the two regularly. He knew that he had to hold my hand when we crossed a street or in parking lots, but he would vehemently fight it other places. When he was two I would whisk him up in my arms and carry him instead.

However, when he turned three, and he was much bigger, we were still struggling with this. I knew I had to try various tactics. Here is what did NOT work; forcing him to hold my hand, telling him how much I liked to hold his hand, giving time outs for not listening, and trying the squeeze hands and smile at each other method that I read in a book. He wasn't buying it. Here is what finally worked...it took time, over a year. (and it still doesn't always work, especially if he is tired)

1. Being neutral when hand holding was optional. He would say, "Do you like holding my hand?" I would respond, "It doesn't matter, either way." Most times he would hold my hand then and say, "I like holding your hand." I would respond, "Ok."

2. When it wasn't optional like in a busy store, I would say, "I am going to hold your hand, because I need to know where you are and keep you safe." I would keep it neutral, but non-optional. This worked, still does.

3. Singing, "I wanna hold your hand...." (Even though this wasn't neutral, he still liked it.)

I do view hand holding as partly symbolic on attachment and bonding, and so it was frustrating that it took so long for this to become comfortable for us and not something that we battled with on most outing. And being completely honest, we still have our days where I feel like we are duking it out with each other. Sigh.

I think my next entry will be on sleeping issues, especially when we first got home.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It Could Be Worse...

It Could Be Better.

It was a dark week. The sky was bright, the sun was shining, but it felt gloomy after the fun of the holiday weekend. The number of embassy dates in Ethiopia has been cut in half. That is the only thing that is keeping me from bringing Elaina home, our embassy date. It sounds like the embassy dates will be restored sometime in August, but it puts us back at least a month, so I will most likely be traveling in September instead of August. I feel like we have been already waited too long. It is difficult to know that I am missing weeks and months of my daughter's life, and she is still in an orphanage instead of home with Levi and me. It has been hard not to dwell on this during the week, but I am hoping to be back in the fun of the summer soon.