Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ghost Stories

Last night, as we were watching TV before bedtime (because reading before bed is highly overrated), the front door blew open. A gust of wind just threw the door open and all of the children, except the one who had forgotten to completely close the front door, looked up in fear and surprise.

Imagine, if you will, watching a scary Halloween movie, and suddenly without warning, the front door bursts open and the howling wind fills the front room.

Except, we were watching Sofia the First, and I had told the errant child repeatedly and increasingly louder, to go back and shut the door.

So, the looks of, OMG what just happened?, and the cries of "Oh no, oh no!" were really funny.

Until the oldest, utilizing all of the wisdom of her scant 15 years, told the youngest that it was a ghost.


This was the following conversation:

Child 1- It was a ghost! A ghost opened the door!
Child 5- What? What a ghost?
Me- Stop it now!
#5-What a ghost?
#1- You can't see a ghost, they are invisible. Something invisible just opened the door.
Me-Stop. Now.
#5- Invisible? What invisible?
#1- A ghost is invisible. It's a person that you can't see.
#5- What? You can't see? You can't see ghost?
#1- No, you can't see it, but it's there. It's a ghost. A ghost opened the front door.
Me- You need to stop.

Child #5 is looking very worried and scared. Child #1 realizing this tries to quickly ease her fears.

#1- It was Casper.
#5- Casper? Who Casper?
#1- Casper is a ghost, but he's friendly. He's really nice. He even has a dog.
#5- Casper ghost? He make dogs?
#1- No, he doesn't make dogs, he has a dog. But you don't have to be afraid, because Casper is super nice. He likes people.
#5- I no understand Casper. He make dog but he is ghost and invisible?
#1- Hang on, I'll show you.

Child #1 then walks away and comes back with a picture of, guess who, Casper the Friendly Ghost.
Awesome. Now we have a visual.

#1- See, this is Casper. He is really nice. He's not scary.
#5- This is Casper? But he is invisible?
#1- This is a picture of Casper. He's a ghost. If he was here you wouldn't be able to see him. But see, he's not scary. He's really nice.

And so my evening ended. With a very proud 15 year asleep in her own bed, and a very scared 7 year old, curled up next to me, elbow nestled into my spine, asleep in my bed.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Everything I Say Ends in "Oui?"

Three months into having five children and I've learned a few things.

You can NEVER have too much bacon in the house.
          "What do you want for breakfast?"
            "What would you like in your lunch?"
               "What do you want for a snack?"
                  "What should we make for dinner?"
The answer is ALWAYS bacon.

Roasting two chickens at one time is not enough food for even two nights.
Roasting tons of vegetables with two chickens is enough to last for weeks.

All children like Cola.

Glass elevators are really scary.
I mean, glass elevators are super fun.

Movie theaters are dark and loud. (Really should have thought this one through beforehand.)

Everyone loves music and everyone loves to dance.

Homework is homework and nobody wants to do it. EVER.

Shooting a gun is innate to every boy.

Everything I say ends in "Oui?" 
      Would you like some bacon, oui?
        It's time for school, oui?
          I really need you to sit down and start your homework, oui?

My black hair braiding skills are slowly becoming acceptable to my daughter. (It is a completely new skill set.)

All little girls need a daddy to dote on them.

All little boys need a daddy to lead them by example.

Every child wants to be loved.
       Love won't cure every child.
         Pain and heartache can seemingly last forever.

A mother's heart can be broken every single day. 
       And, then, mended every single night as you watch your children sleep.  


Change is hard.

We knew adding two more children to our family would be challenging. We did not enter into this adoption blind. We've done this before. We knew what to expect and we knew to have absolutely no expectations.

We are quickly emerging from our cocooning state. It didn't last as long as we thought, again, expectations. These new kids slipped right into family life and routine.

Our older kids, not so much.

Three and a half years is a long time to wait for siblings.

It gives you way too much time to create all kinds of scenarios in your mind of what they will be like. How much fun you will have together. How you are going to teach them all about Star Wars, and X-Box, and basketball, and dance. How sharing a room is going to be the Best Thing Ever!

You create all kinds of Expectations.

Then, when they do finally arrive home your life is never the same.

Immediately you think, this isn't fun. The new kids demand a lot of attention. They whine and even cry, sometimes for hours (seriously hours). They copy everything you say and when they talk to each other in creole you are 100% sure they are making fun of you.

You find out that your new brother doesn't like Star Wars (how is this even possible?). He prefers soccer over basketball, and could care less about the X-Box. Your new sister follows you around all day long. She won't leave you alone. Ever. And, sharing your bedroom SUCKS!

You ask when the kids are going back to Haiti, and get upset when you find out the answer is never. Adoption is forever. Just like you, these kids are here to stay.

But, bit by bit, day by day, you discover these new kids might not be so bad.

Your new brother loves the Avengers! In fact he watches the movie everyday, sometimes in French. He also loves wearing your costumes and running around shooting nerf guns. A couple of months in, you find he actually prefers the Wii over the X-Box.

That little sister? She just wants to play. If she's bugging you too much, you learn to hand her a doll or a gun (whatever) and suddenly she is golden.

And slowly, while not without struggle, you learn that change can be good.
And, that your life will never be the same.
And, that's ok.
You think.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

One Month Home

Here we are, a family of seven for exactly one month.

I'm not going to lie, it's been a huge adjustment.
For everyone.

We've had interesting conversations:

Child-"How long are they staying anyways?"
Me- "Um, forever, just like you."
Child- "Argh, I thought they were just going to visit for awhile."
Me- "No honey. Adoption is forever. You know that. You didn't just visit."
Child- "I don't like this at all."

 "I bet when they first arrived here they thought they had traveled into the future."

Every morning, I find two extra children on my bedroom floor. As soon as daddy gets up to shower I find two extra children in my bed. First words out of their mouths every day, "machine?" Meaning, "Get up mom, let's go somewhere in the car."

Child- "Where are we going?"
Me- "We're going to Target."
Cheers erupt from the two newest children. Seriously, shouts of joy.

Breakfast time:
"Hot dog"
"No. Eggs, toast, mango, banana pou manje."
"No, eggs. Hot dog."
"No hot dog pou manje."
"OUI hoooooooooot dooooooooog."
At which point child #1, 2, or 3 makes the newest children hot dogs so they won't have to listen to whining.
Ironic isn't it?
The older kids can't stand whining. The older children will do anything to stop the whining.

It's been difficult and it's been wonderful.
One day home and the children were introduced to Marvel and all of the Avengers.
Two days home and the boys had taught their new brother to ride a bike.
Four days home and everyone was familiar with a Nerf gun.
Two weeks home and the kids camped in the backyard. All five of them, together.
Three weeks home and we've seen the Avengers over 25 times.
Four weeks home, and the newest spent the night at grandme and grandpapa's home.

One month home, new children, growing family, old issues, new issues, lots of fighting, lots of playing, and lots of love.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Adoption and Bonding

Many of you are wondering how things are going with the new children. This is a very important time for all of us as we get to know each other. The bonds that our new children are forming with us as parents and siblings will be the foundation of their new lives.

The attachment and bonding that needs to take place can be very difficult for some children. Children who do not attach to their new families may be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). You can read more about RAD here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactive_attachment_disorder. (Thank you Wikipedia). We have had personal experience with RAD in a child and it's not fun. In fact, it was the most emotionally exhausting thing we have ever dealt with as parents.

To help with the attachment process there are a few things we do/have done, to make this process go smoothly. These are all things we have done with our previous three adoptions so many of you already know and understand how and why we isolate ourselves for a time. For those of you wondering about this attachment process, our family "cocoons".

1. We stay at home.
They are learning about their new home and family. They are also learning to trust. The best way to do this is to stay home.

2. We do not have people over.
Do not be offended if we do not invite you inside. Our children are getting use to us, new parents and siblings. Having other people around is confusing. The first month, or even longer, is only the immediate family (grandparents, aunts and uncles) and very close family friends (hopefully).

3. Love, Hugs, Kisses, and Comfort
These things are ONLY from us. Part of the attachment process is the understanding that we are the new caretakers. We provide comfort when someone is hurt. We give lots of hugs and kisses, and spend a lot of time cuddling. We want our new children to feel loved and for that love to become innate and unquestioned.

4. Food
Again, food ONLY comes from us. Food means so many different things, but because food is life sustaining it is important it come from the parents. They will start to depend on us as the people who care and love them because we are providing for their basic needs.

5. Care
We don't leave the children with anyone. Yes, we need a break. Yes, I'm tired of being home, all the time. I could really use a night out, alone, with my husband.
Leaving them now, even for a short time, is difficult. Again, it's all about trust. Can you imagine how scary it would be for your new parents to give you a kiss, say "goodbye, we'll be home soon" and have no idea what that even means?
In a few weeks, if all is going well, grandma may come over so we can get a "date", but even that wouldn't be more than two hours and it will not interfere with bedtime.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Do not be offended. I can't say this enough. We love all of you. You are still our friends. It may be awhile before we completely emerge. If someone talks of how they saw us or were at our house, DO NOT take it personally. They may have caught us on an outing or on a really good day at home.

2. If our child runs to you for a hug or seeks comfort from you for any reason, please respond carefully. You may gently hug them and reassure them while at the same time directing them back to one of us, the parents.
Many newly adoptive children will seek out attention from any adult present. Part of this is testing out their new surroundings and part of this is testing their bonds with the new parents: are you going to still love me if I go to this person? If I refuse your comfort, what will you do?

3. Please do not offer any food to the children. It's kind of like, don't feed the animals. If you feed them children, they depend on you. We need them to depend on us.

4. Take one of the older children.
This is an adjustment for everyone. Our older ones are "on" all the time. They are learning how to interact with younger siblings and how to communicate in Creole. They are learning patience and endurance and frankly, they get exhausted. They would love to have a break and just hang with their friends.

I know this is a lot to read, but we could not do this without your love, prayers, and understanding.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Quick Recap of Haiti

For those of you wondering, here's what happened while we were in Haiti.

We arrived Monday about noon. It took us almost an hour to get through immigration and customs, but this is two hours less then the last time we were in Haiti.

 It was hot. And humid. It was really hot and humid.

We took the kids back to the resort and went swimming and just hung out. It was wonderful.
On Tuesday we took full custody of the kids. We spent time at the pool and the beach and hung out in the room watching movies.

And the air conditioner went out five different times. And the air conditioner in the bathroom didn't work. It was like showering and peeing in a sauna.

Then Tuesday evening Nate was not feeling well. He didn't eat much for dinner. He tossed and turned all night and started running a fever. Wednesday morning he refused breakfast and had a high fever. After some ibuprofen he was ready for the pool. He crashed as soon as we returned to our bungalow and the fever was back.

And when the air conditioner went out, it was because the power went out. When the power went out the TV didn't work. Then we had to go outside where it was super hot and humid.

He could barely walk to dinner that evening. He didn't eat but we were able to get liquids in him. He slept all night, tossing and whimpering in his sleep. I had to wake him once to get more meds in him in order to keep the fever down. We were leaving Thursday afternoon, so at this point we were just concerned he wouldn't be able to fly.

Also, it's really difficult to watch the World Cup when there is no power for the television.

Thursday morning he couldn't walk. Seriously, couldn't walk. When our ride arrived to take us to the airport he carried Nate to the car. At the airport, one of the swarming men in red caps, grabbed a wheelchair for us and he became our special "friend".

The pool was great. The ocean and beach were beautiful. Unfortunately for us, the pool and beach were outside where it was really hot and humid.

When we were finally able to board the plane, Nate was not doing well. We tucked him into his seat with a blanket and pillow and Dramamine so he could sleep (don't judge me) and we were off for New York City. Worst.Flight.Ever. Entirely different post.

New York City was hot. And humid. And we waited almost an hour for a taxi. An hour for a taxi in New York. Whatever.

The airport had a wheelchair waiting which, again, was a lifesaver for us. Nate had gotten sick on the plane and was just miserable. The immigration process was quick and smooth and we were off to our hotel for the night. The hotel put us in a suite (Thank you JFK Airport Hilton!) and they even had a wheelchair for Nate. One hundred dollars of room service later we were all full and tucked into bed for the evening. Nate and Celine both slept soundly all night for the first time.

It was raining back home in Portland. I was secretly really excited.

Our flight to Portland was very early, but we were ready to go home! Nate woke up fever free. He was still having trouble walking, but refused the wheelchair at the hotel and airport. Luckily, JFK has a security line just for families with kids, and it was short and quick. Then we were off for Portland, but not before each child had picked out a toy plane. Nate chose the New York Jets plane and Celine the New York Giants. I will not comment on their choices.

In Portland it was a lovely 70 degrees and a bit overcast. Perfection.

Really, that was the trip. We ate, we swam, we slept, Nate got sick, and we came home.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thank You!

We did it!
The kids are actually here on US soil! We could not be happier.

It only took 3 1/2 years! Yes, three years and six months. You try being pregnant for that long. It's not fun.

Of course, you all know about our ups and downs throughout this journey, and to each and everyone of you I am giving you a virtual *hug*.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your kind words, your offers of help, your gifts of food and clothing. I have so many thank yous I'm overflowing.

When we started we didn't realize what an arduous journey this would be. We knew it would be long, about two years, maybe closer to three, but we NEVER thought it would be this long. Our children went from 4 and 7 years to being 7 and 10 years old. Thankfully, this was not our first adoptive process and our other children kept us very busy. I cannot even imagine the wait for the first time parents.

I cannot say thank you enough. I finally had a chance to read all of your facebook comments this morning and I can't keep from crying, so thank you for making me a total mess. 

We knew from the beginning that we were suppose to bring these two children home. We prayed for years before we started and knew when the timing was right. We were given a promise from God of two more children. Our promise was fulfilled in His perfect timing. For this, we are eternally thankful.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

It's Here Again- Mother's Day

After reviewing last year's post about Mother's Day I don't have much more to add.

It's still not about me. My siblings still asked what I wanted to do for our mom. My husband asked me what I wanted to do. My kids looked really surprised when I told them Sunday is Mother's Day.

Last year I said what I really want is a day without my children. A day of shopping, maybe a movie, dinner, and even a drink. It didn't happen. It's not going to happen this year either, so I made a list of things I do want.  Here it is.

I want to wake up on my own. No alarms, no dogs, and no children in my bed, in the dog bed, or on the floor.

I want to go to church. I want EVERYONE to be showered, dressed, fed and ready to leave the house for church, ON TIME.

I want to come home and take a nap. And while I'm taking a nap I don't want to hear fighting, Minecraft , Halo, or "can you help me with my homework?"

As for homework, I don't want to do ANY homework. Ask your dad. He is really smart. Seriously, he can help you.

When I get up from my nap, I want a Lego free floor. I want all the Nerf bullets; the orange, the blue, the glow-in-the-dark, and the round green ones, all of them picked up.

I want a clean house. I don't want to find wet towels on the floor, I don't want to smell cat litter, I don't want to find socks in every room. I want your shoes and backpacks and dance/basketball gear put away. Mostly, I don't want to do dishes, or cook, or laundry.

For one day, I don't want anyone yelling. I don't want anyone asking me what happened to their shirt/shoes/backpack/homework/X-Box game/ I-Pod/permission slip/dinner/phone.

I don't want to hear, "But it's not fair" or "I didn't do it" or "You are so mean".
I want a day with no sassing, no rolling of eyes or big sighs, and no backtalk.

I want one day, one day, where everyone pretends they like each other, everyone gets along, and everyone helps with the work to be done. A day where we can eat a real meal at the real table and not in front of the TV.

Is this too much? Can they pull together and keep each other in check for one day?
But what a gift it would be if they try.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Swearing at Bible Study and Waiting

Today at Bible study I swore.

The swearing part isn't new.  I tend to swear much more than my husband likes.  Swearing while at Bible study is new.  I don't recommend it.

It happened because someone asked me how the adoption was going. It was a fair question. We pray for each other and they wanted to know if there has been any progress, because they have been praying.

I was honest. 
Maybe a little too honest.

I said, "My attitude toward the entire process sucks right now.  I am really angry and frustrated and just really pissed off.  All the time, I am just pissed."

Nice, I swore twice, in the same breath.

I am. I am really angry that this is taking FOREVER.  I want my kids home NOW. I'm tired of waiting, my husband is tired of waiting, my children at home are tired of waiting, my friends are tired of waiting.

Waiting sucks.

The real problem is not that I am angry, but who I am angry with.
I am angry with God.
He really isn't being very quick on this whole adoption thing. Why won't He open doors so my kids can come home?  Why does He want us to wait? Why doesn't He do anything?

We're working through this anger, God and I.
It's ok to be angry, but I don't want to be stuck here. It doesn't feel good. It grieves me and I know it grieves my Heavenly Father. 
I am completely human, and I am living through this very human anger. 
I spend a lot of time in prayer, a lot of time in the word, and a lot of time with my very supportive and praying friends. It's a process.

In all honesty, I don't even have a good way to end this post. 
I'm angry.
God is working in me. He is growing me. I am going to come out of this a better person.
In this I have complete faith.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


We are waiting. 

We've been waiting for 2.5 years.

Waiting for a phone call that the kids are moving into visa stage.
Waiting for permission to fly and bring our kids home.
Waiting for the electrician to arrive to put in wiring for the new bedrooms.
Waiting for sheetrock, paint, carpet.
Waiting to see how everyone is going to adjust.

Waiting for two darling children to enter our lives.

Waiting is hard.  I'm not going to lie.  It's hard.  We have no definite answers, no real plan, no idea when all of this is going to happen.

Until then, we wait. We wait in earnest. We wait joyfully. We wait for a promise to be fulfilled.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving in us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.