Yippee-do-da

We have court!!! May 18th.

19 days, more like 18 1/2. 🙂

I’m starting to believe trips to Chicago are good luck. Zach and I are heading to Chicago this weekend for a little Cubs game to celebrate the tremendous amount of birthdays we have in the family so my parents, my sister, my brother and Lindsey and Lindsey’s sister and future brother-in-law are going. Did you get all of that?

Anyway, I am so very excited for the next few weeks. Lots going on in May, why not add a court date, right?

There is a good chance we’ll have multiple court dates for any number of reasons (too many assigned cases and not enough time, any remaining birth family does not show up, etc).

So I guess regular Tesi is back for the next few weeks so if you’ve always wanted to talk to me but never have, now might be the time because if we don’t pass or if it gets stalled Lord help us all.

Speaking of Lord, Praise Be for this most awesome day. This opportunity to be a mom to these amazing boys.

For life, love, family, friends, sweet 8lb baby Jesus.

Regular Tesi OUT.

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How YOU Doin?

Well apparently not that well.

Rough couple days.

Turned to cookie dough (ice cream) for the first time, if that tells you anything.

4+ months ago we saw their faces.

2+ months ago we found out they were going to be ours.

This whole thing is complicated because I have such a great life here. A redonkulessly amazing husband, some freakishly amazing kids, pretty terrific dogs, living on 250 acres of wooded property.

So please know from here on out when/if I complain about the wait, I know it will and should fall on deaf ears. With that said this here is a real portrait of waiting for an international adoption…

Our boys have been in the orphanage for a year and a half. A year and a half! Ugh, that’s too long. One day in an orphanage is too long.

I’ve heard from a few families who have traveled and met our boys. T, they say, cries when his friends leave and asks when he’s going next. He is apparently one of the oldest ones there and they are lacking in older child toys.

B, they say, snuggles on laps and gives kisses freely. Anyone who has studied kids in institutionalized care knows they often do this to try to win people over so they can come home with them. You can bet if I were in an orphanage for a year and a half I’d be snuggling up and kissing on whoever looked most likely to take me home with them. My baby B is clearly wanting us as much as we are wanting him.

They’re ready, I’m ready. I, selfishly, wish the courts would push through these waiting (older) children and/or children with special needs. It just so happens our boys fall into both categories (I’ll go into that later). Needless to say, it’s time.

We did hear word that we will for sure be grandfathered under the 1 trip rule, which is a tremendous blessing. Praises for that to be sure.

We’ve gone a few weeks without any word on new court dates or travel dates from our agency which always makes me nervous. What’s the hold up?

Booo, hate feeling like this. Because I have so many blessings to lean on it feels so selfish to want more. It really, really does. So be it, I’m being flippin selfish right now. I want my boys.

And you know how I mentioned I’m a “do-er”? This is what I do when I want my boys.

Set up Dailah and B’s room (needs a little boy touch, I admit).

Set up Tariku and T’s room. Color picked out by Tariku, he thought his older brother T would love it.

And perhaps most ridiculous…I do B’s laundry (what?!?!?!?!) Yes, I wash size 3t clothes in preparation for his homecoming (most likely at least 3 months away). So clearly, that makes sense.

Zach and I have labeled all my various “personalities”. There is regular Tesi, pretty laid back, pretty good humored, slightly silly. There is pregnant Tesi, not laid back at all, swollen, mostly miserable, enjoys eating entire Tombstones. Then there is adoption Tesi who worries about the smallest of things, convinces herself that people are out to get her and somehow manages to get riled up at the smallest of things.

Safe to say Zach and I want regular Tesi back. I think she’ll be back tomorrow, but for today adoption Tesi has got a tight grip on the place.

On Triggers

Over the last few months I’ve had more people than ever email/call/Facebook me about adoption. Questions about how hard it is, how to get started, etc. I love all this interest, it’s easy to answer these questions because adoption really is one of my favorite topics to discuss these days.

It’s a little difficult, though, because Tariku’s transition has been so good. People ask about older child adoption all the time and I find myself saying, “It’s been the best thing in the world, the only way we’ll ever do it…but I want you to understand it’s no picnic.”

And really, it is kind of a picnic, a picnic that will have moments of thunderstorms but for the most part is just this joy-filled experience.

Tariku has been home with us for just over 2 years (he came home at the age of 3, for new joiners to hotflawedmama) and has done amazingly well. In recent months we’ve begun to notice that he has a few triggers that, if left unchecked, will send him in to what we call “Space Cadet mode”. That simply means he noticeably disengages which translates to us as not listening to anything we say, eating without stopping, etc.

One trigger we know for sure is food. Tariku was brought into the care center malnourished. To see that little boy in his first few photos with wrists the size of pencils and to see him now, filling out his baseball uniform better than his older brother is almost unbelievable. That said, it’s obvious he vividly remembers a time in his life where he didn’t know if or when he’d eat.

Tariku has to eat every couple of hours or he starts to “misbehave”. I put that in quotes because, truly, he can’t help it. We’re pretty sure a part of him deep inside starts to panic when he hasn’t eaten for a few hours, this little part seems to be telling him he won’t get to eat for another couple days or so. Let me note here that his “misbehaving” I’ll take any day over other kids I see. Like I said, it typically means he just doesn’t listen, will make random bad decisions (like scream at Dailah-which he never does), etc.

We’ve found if we stay on top of the food thing, he’s so much better throughout the day. People had mentioned having a “snack drawer” that is always available to him. I’ve mentioned that to him but honestly, he would just eat it all day every day. Food is that much of a trigger if he ever felt sad or lonely or frustrated, he would turn to food and I’m not sure that’s exactly what I want to teach him. So I always tell him “If you’re really hungry you just tell me and I’ll find something”. If he ever comes to me and I know there’s no way he’s hungry, we have some cuddle time in a chair just to chat. Or I give him a little Chrystal Lite to drink and that seems to help, I also tell him when the next time we’ll eat and what it’ll be, which brings us to…

Schedule. A HUGE trigger for this guy. Our assumption is that his days in Ethiopia pre-care center were probably very similar. Then one day they weren’t and everything was turned upside down. Tariku is like no one else I know about schedules. Every morning we wake up he asks me to go over what we’re doing for the day (which I of course do). This is such a trigger that if, for some reason, I go a different way to preschool then he starts talking in the car, “Mom, this is not how we go to school, where are we going? I thought you said we were going to school. Mom, this isn’t how we go to school, why aren’t we going to school?” Clearly panicking, I have to talk him down from the emotional ledge. But until we wind up at school, he goes comatose and looks out the window. It.is.heartbreaking.

The last few months have been tough with this particular trigger because we’ve inserted baseball practice into a routine that had pretty much been the same for over a year. On top of the change to our schedule he also goes to bed considerably later and so his exhaustion feeds his panic.

This presents itself by random things as well. For a guy who has never lost any possession of value, in the last month Tariku has lost brand new hats, brand new shoes, various toys, a few coats, etc (mercifully I’ve got a gift for finding stuff so most of it has subsequently been found). But all of this is so out of character and all based around the time we are running to and fro practice.

As a side note, Tariku cannot get enough of baseball, so it’s not that he doesn’t want to be there, it’s just that it’s so out of schedule that he doesn’t know what to think.

We’ve discovered a few more that are more specific to his story, so I won’t go into them here, but needless to say it all makes a lot of sense.

After parenting biological babes who have known and felt comfort and trust their whole lives, it would be very easy to dismiss or punish Tariku when he acts out. Thankfully we’ve taken enough adoption classes, read plenty of books, know some really smart people (check my blog roll) and have learned to listen to our parental guts to know that would be the exact opposite of what needs to be done.

Last night I had a small breakdown after one of his breakdowns because I just wanted to take it from him. I just wanted to take that heartbreaking yoke of his and place it on my sturdier shoulders. How I wish I could erase those parts of his past and leave only the good things he remembers. I wish I could take the sadness of his past and keep it inside me until he’s stronger and older and can understand the various dynamics a little better.

But I can’t, so we work through these things together. I try to show him every day that he will eat, we will always return home as a family, all of us together. We try to be proactive so that he doesn’t become reactive.

It’s not always easy but it’s always worth it because at the end of the day, he is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.

And really, older child adoption is truly the bomb diggity otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it again (with two more!).

Great Reading

From one of the blogs I read. I’m too tired to write something specific about our family so here’s something that is not specifically about our family but kind of is.

I am the Truth

Recently there have been many stories in the news regarding international adoption. Stories about corruption and trafficking, about unethical agencies and uncaring parents, about abuse and about neglect, about unprepared families and uninvolved agencies, but are those stories really the truth about what international adoption is? In the face of these stories, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services has asked that all adoptive families speak out about the truth of international adoption.

But what is the truth of international adoption?

The truth is international adoption is not for the ill-prepared or the uncommitted- but then that is true of parenting- PERIOD

The truth is your child comes to you with a history that you not only were not a part of, but that you might never ever know. Some of that history may involve their first families or foster families and you will realize that these people have become part of your lives, regardless of whether or not you have ever met them or even know what they look like.

The truth is smiles and hugs, tears and tantrums, joys and sorrow

The truth is that you will always cringe when people ask you if you have children “of your own” because you understand how totally and completely your child is yours even while others can’t understand how that can be so

The truth is that your child’s story becomes part OF you yet it doesn’t belong TO you. It is neither yours to tell or to interpret

The truth is that love is not enough

The truth is that you occasionally feel that you have to explain or defend your family to others and this includes the seemingly positive statement that you “saved” your child. No matter how bad a situation they might have been in, what happens after an adoption is parenting, not saving.

The truth is you need to think about things you may never have ever considered before and things that maybe you would rather not consider- things like racism, classism, privilege, power and entitlement.

The truth is tiny handprints on the wall, little footprints on the floor, potty training, homework, band-aids, piles of laundry, sloppy kisses, bouquets of dandelions and belly laughs

The truth is that every news story about your child’s country of origin now matters to you too

The truth is that great sadness at what was lost can exist in the same space as great joy at what was gained

The truth is that a child can be the bravest person you have ever met

The truth is that international adoption is messy and complicated and hard and amazing and wonderful

Before we began the adoption process we took some adoption classes. On the last night there was a panel of adoptive parents (all of whom had only adopted children) One by one they each told their stories and each said they could not have loved their child more if they had been born to them. And while I understood that academically, I wondered how they could be so sure. I now look at my daughters and know birth is not what makes a parent. I look at my girls and know they are mine- yet at the same time, I also know they are not mine alone. I look and wonder whose eyes do they have, where does their personality come from, how much is nurture and how much is nature. But I do know- with every fiber of my being that parenthood is not based on genetics or birth or sharing a resemblance.

The truth of international adoption is that family isn’t determined by the single act of giving birth but by the act of simply BEING a family

THIS IS THE TRUTH OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Today at Wal Mart

What a great start to a post, right?

But really, today at Wal Mart was very interesting indeed.

I decided to head there early in the AM. With the kids (all of them, in-service day for the boys). In my pajamas. Without, ahem, support for “the ladies”, if you know what I mean. (I was wearing a sweatshirt, so it wasn’t so obvious but we are starting a garden so I thought perhaps to fit in I should start going without “support” more often to fit in sufficiently).

Anywho, we started out at the can take back center. It had been over a month since I took back any cans so things looked really bad (beer cans, a few whiskey containers, a few wine jugs, the usual). But as I was putting the cans in the container I turned to the kids who were sprinting towards the computerized job application center.

“Kids, look at me, do not touch the screen. Understand? No touching. Did you hear?” – Me

“Yes” -kids

I turn back around to finish the can business. Take a peek at the kids just in time to watch Tariku touch the screen.

“Tariku! Come here. What are you doing?” – Me

“Touching the screen.” – Tariku

“Why? Did you hear me just tell you not to do that?” – Me

“Yes.” -Tariku

“Ok, well spit out your gum, and you can take a break with me then.” -Me

All of a sudden a guy (we’ll call him “genius”), also taking back cans, breaks out in applause.

Applause. Towards me.

He starts yelling, “Thank you! Thank you for being a good mom! Thank you for following through on what you say! Consequences, they’re called consequences, people!”

Have I mentioned I love Wal Mart?

So genius and I have a good talk. About how his wife threatens the kids and then keeps threatening and then keeps threatening them.

Genius told me his kids know that when he tells them he’s going to throw their butts through the window, they know he means it (we’ll start calling him “misunderstood”).

Ok…moving along, back to my superb mothering skills…

“Seriously”, misunderstood says, “that’s what’s wrong with parents today though, man. They have no respect from their kids. You got that, look at him (pointing at Tariku) that kid knows you mean what you say.”

And I suppose he does. I suppose all my kids do.

I’m not mean (though they might think so from time to time) but I do tend to hold my ground decently well. Sometimes, though, I get so angry I’ll say something like, “Stop doing that or you’ll never get a toy again for the rest of your life.”

Riiiiiiight.

Either way, today I decided Wal Mart isn’t so bad after all. Or at least genius/misunderstood isn’t so bad.

I also decided next time I might throw on some support, a bit of mascara and really throw people for a loop in that place.

A Playdate

Have them every Wednesday. Would have them every day if I could, particularly when the temps are in the 80s!

And these two are beyond precious, so loving they truly know no strangers.

Oh but these two, are the very best of friends. Their relationship has seriously taught me a few things about my relationships. They love each other so fiercely, I can’t get enough of them.