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, (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.