Archive for January, 2014

31
Jan
14

brutal honesty (and sarcasm)

This is not a sunshiny how wonderful is everything post.  I wonder if I’ll delete it later…

Questions have come in waves.  I know that for the most part they come from a place of honest interest and caring curiosity.  At times though, even those can be really insensitive.  For a while most everyone asked if they were sisters.  “No, real sisters” they’d say like I didn’t know what they meant.  Look folks, my kids were a bit older when they were adopted.  Bonding has not been easy for them.  Please don’t make them question their REAL place in our very REAL family more than their complicated background makes them question it already.  I have to practice taking a deep breath and smiling before I can answer politely.  If not, lots of people would now head in another direction if they saw us coming.  Can’t you see they have the same mama?!?  Of course they’re real sisters!  Come over and listen to the bickering and playing and all of the wonderful craziness of real siblings and you’d have no doubt about how real they are.

Then, it was if they were learning English, any English at all.  “What language do they speak?”  “How do you communicate with them?”  Friends and curious strangers, if you were immersed in a foreign language you’d be close to fluent after a bit too.  In fact, they’re right here and understand every word you’re saying about them.  Yep, they speak English.  And what we call gobble-de-gook.  They love to speak to each other and to me in this secret language.  Not much is actually communicated except how silly we are.

During The Wait, it was comments about “God’s perfect timing” that really forced me to practice deep breathing exercises.  Yes, God wants my kids, one of whom had untreated malaria, to spend as much time as possible with inadequate nutrition and unclean water and just continue without a family’s love when one was ready and aching to get them home.  If you find comfort in that, great, but please don’t talk to me about God’s perfect timing.  Mamas should not have to wait for months and sometimes years for their babies to be safe and at home and we’ll have to wait until they’re older to ask them, but I’m pretty sure my kids would have preferred love and food and books and rocking and cuddling with mama over whatever the situation was in the orphanage.  It’s not your first family and we need to make sure you can grieve that loss, but how ‘bout hang out here in an orphanage until the time is perfect to go home?  It’ll be great.  They’ve experienced tremendous loss and will lose more being adopted internationally, let’s go ahead and start the healing, I think.  They need to be home, with mama.  I appreciate your attempt at comforting words and perhaps God does have perfect timing, but try to understand that my babies are in a foreign country in unknown conditions.  Pretty sure now is the perfect time.  I was not adopted myself, but waiting and waiting and waiting for the timing to be perfect to be loved by a family is just silly.  Now.  Now is the perfect time to be loved by a family.

More than several times people have commented how nice it is that I didn’t have to go through that potty training stage and all those diapers before that with my two kids.  Like that is somehow a silver lining.  That’s the great part of not having them home until they were three years old, I’ve always said.  No messy diapers!  Infants, no thank you!  Those tiny mess makers are just too needy.  I’ll wait until they’re a bit older and happily let some unknown someone help them sort out all of that tiny baby stuff.  Unknown conditions, lacking nutrition, lacking hugs and cuddles, lacking medical care and clean water, lacking love and a family, just lacking so much, as long as I don’t have to change a diaper and potty train them, I’m good!  “I’m in no hurry to have them home” said no waiting parent EVER.  There is no silver lining to missing the first three (or any three, or any) years of a child’s life.  Not one.  Not one for them and not one for me.  They were not with their first families most of that time.  They were in care.  They were with people doing the absolute best they could (forever grateful to you, whoever you are!), but not with their family.  Again, now seems like the perfect time to be home and in a loving family, diapers and potty training don’t really factor into it.

Also, questions about having kids of “my own” or “real kids” are popular.  “Do they have the same dad?” is right up there too.  Why is that question ever okay?  When people find out that I adopted as a single person they assume I must have finally given up on the get married-have kids-live happily ever after scenario.  Not true.  I chose this life.  It was on purpose.

And while I’m on my soapbox getting well meaning people all fired up (sorry)… If you’re a stranger, please don’t just come up and touch my kids’ hair.  I, annoyingly, don’t even let them touch their own hair too much.  “Mama, why your fingers not hurt my curls, but my fingers does?”  Ummm….. okay I need to ease up a bit, but it’s extremely dry here and with naps and car seats and family wrestling night and putting blankets on our heads to pretend any number of things it gets dry easily and when it gets dry it just breaks.  Keta had to have her hair shaved in the orphanage, so having hair is a big deal to her.  You can tell her you love her beads or say her braids are awesome or comment about those gorgeous curls.  She’ll be thrilled!  It took her a long time to understand healthy touch though and even longer to like it a tiny bit.  She does not like to be touched by strangers, so don’t, please.  Thanks.

As I was writing this I came across this    http://africatoamerica.org/2014/01/24/ten-things-not-to-say-to-adoptive-parents/  Made me feel better knowing that families who have adopted have had some of the same experiences.   Included are some ways to say the same thing and get the same information while being a little more sensitive to the family and especially the kiddos, if you’re interested.  Now I’ll get over myself.

Moments like these …… love it!

Whoopie pie!

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Three of the five cuties who crawled into my bed while I was in the shower
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Day 1 — Iditarod training
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19
Jan
14

hair day!

Before…. big box braids with beads

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After…. big box braids with no beads, pulled into a ponytail (again), basically the same

Total hair day failure!  Because…..

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a few days before……

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A hair day for mama!  Isn’t my stylist the cutest?!  All her idea, by the way, the apron with clips and combs.  It’s a good one too.  I’m constantly looking for the pintail comb or a clip when I’m the stylist.
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So proud of her creation, my little stylist.  I have no idea how we avoided needing to cut a pintail comb out of my hair, twice.  She said she was trying to make it curly like hers.  It did not work.  Now though, we’re looking for another comb.  It’s that one in her right pocket in the photo above.  It’s not there anymore.  Nor is it anywhere else, apparently.  We have hair stretched and detangled.  We have movies picked out and beads selected.  We have no comb.  Not true, we have several combs, just not that one.  Not the one that somehow doesn’t pull as much as the others.  We also have no idea where that was purchased.  We didn’t know what would work, so we have a variety.  That one works.  That one is gone.  I hope it shows up by next weekend.  Our box braids are getting a little fuzzy.  We want cornrows!  We want our comb!  We want our movies and lots of mama time!  If it’s found, it will soon have a friend that looks just like it, maybe two, and  they’ll all be put on a high shelf with the pintail combs.  No way I could luck out a third time and not need scissors. 🙂
11
Jan
14

the blanks

Keta and Francine don’t have baby books.  There’s not one for kiddos adopted internationally as toddlers by a single person, that I could find.  I started this blog as a way to keep family in the loop during my stay in country to be with my kiddos during the last part of The Wait.  Since we’re long past that and this blog is still going, I guess it’ll serve as their baby books.  So, I feel like I should back up a bit, tell a bit more of their story for them, fill in the blanks, the ones I can find the words for anyway.

First, Keta and Francine, you are not a back up plan, plan B, or worst-case scenario.  I never set out to have “real” kids first or kids of “my own.”  I didn’t resort to adoption after trying everything else.  I chose adoption, first.  You are The Plan and real kids in every single way, my real kids in every single way that matters.  You are my own.  Always know that, you are my own.

Looking back, some pretty crazy amazing things happened to bring us all together.  The stars were aligned or it was part of some greater plan by a higher power or some unknown something made it all work out just as it did.  Looking back, it’s easy to see it couldn’t have happened any sooner and now that it seems adoptions in DRC are closed to single people and all but closed to everyone else, it’s easy to see it couldn’t have happened any later.

Adopting had been an idea floating around in my mind since before I was old enough to make it happen.  I thought someday I’d consider it.  I said if I ever wanted kids, I’d adopt.  I didn’t need to make my own.  I started thinking about it quite a lot and told myself that if I was still thinking about it most everyday a year later, I’d start the process.  About a year later I started skydiving and quit my job, moved to another state and worked for a SCUBA business.  I moved in my little two-door car with my two big dogs.  I found an apartment and spent the next six months sleeping on the floor.  Clearly, it was no time to throw a few kiddos into the mix, but I was okay with that.  I had a chance to teach some kids a little about diving.  These kids were growing up in a rough part of town and had barely been in the water before.  Some of them clung to me while others checked in only to show me some of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen and see mine in return.  It was pretty great, teaching them.  So, I quit.  I moved back to Colorado to teach full-time.  Then, it was time to start looking for my family.  I called my county social services department and told them I wanted to adopt.  After a year of mostly unreturned phone calls from multiple counties I realized it wasn’t going to happen.  I wouldn’t be able to adopt from the foster care system.  I didn’t think a birth mom would choose me from a big book of prospective parents.  I don’t look great on paper, single, very unimpressive income, no white picket fence.  I wouldn’t pick me.  It seemed like domestic adoption was out, but international adoption was out too, too expensive.  I researched anyway, even requested information from a few agencies.  I was unenthused.  Less often and less hopeful, I kept looking.  When I finally came across the agency I ultimately used I printed the application, filled it out, wrote a check and was on the phone with S by the end of that same week.  Didn’t question it, just knew to go for it.  A visit was scheduled for the home study and the ball was rolling.  I was really, finally, going forward with it.  I was on my way to becoming a mama, on my way to my family.  I was on my way to Keta and Francine.  Going for it, best decision I’ve ever made.

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04
Jan
14

tiger

There’s a new farmergirl.  She’s an orphaned barn kitty that we were able to help bottle-feed at Thanksgiving.  Keta asked Santa for a baby kitty.  That’s it, a baby kitty.  She practiced and practiced saying it so Santa could hear and understand and so she’d get all the words right.  Santa couldn’t deliver a kitty, but I could.  Ridiculous, I know.  But there was a baby kitty just old enough for Christmas delivery.   Plus, seemed like a bigger deal to reinforce a little girl’s belief and awe, delight and general little girl wonder than having another farmergirl.  All of that kind of thing is pretty rare for Keta.

Keta and Francine’s biggest concern was how long their baby kitten was going to be sad and scared and miss her first family.  They were both really confused when I asked if they’d like to change her name.  What an absurd idea!  Who would consider such a thing?  Her name is Tiger, Mama.

So, another farmergirl.  I’m paid a quarter each time I have to pick up after this one though.  Hope it never gets to the point that I’m secretly slipping quarters into the piggy bank.  All that kiddos learn from having pets, kind of a big deal.  Having Keta ask for something and then being able to get it for her, kind of a big deal. Another farmergirl, no big deal…. I hope! 😉

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